A look back at the fight to save YOUR health services

PUBLISHED: 15:24 10 April 2008 | UPDATED: 14:38 25 August 2010

A&E petition presented to MP Derek Conway at House of Commons
Pic:Simon Hildrew

Bexley 20-09-07 A&E petition presented to MP Derek Conway at House of Commons Pic:Simon Hildrew

IT WAS way back in March last year that your campaigning Times revealed there were plans to close Accident and Emergency services at Queen Mary s Hospital, Sidcup, to all but minor walk-in casualties...

IT WAS way back in March last year that your campaigning Times revealed there were plans to close Accident and Emergency services at Queen Mary's Hospital, Sidcup, to all but minor walk-in casualties.

In the past 12 months we have exclusively revealed flaws in the plans to cut our services and have exposed how already over-stretched hospitals in Bromley, Woolwich and Dartford will be forced to take the strain.

To mark a year of campaigning for your community hospital, we look back at the stories we have broken to keep fighting on YOUR behalf to save our services...

IN APRIL last year, we launched our campaign in response to the strength of feeling against proposals to cut services in Sidcup.

BY MAY the campaign was backed by hundreds of readers as well as Olympic javelin silver medallist Steve Backley from Chislehurst.

IN JUNE, Bexley councillor Sharon Massey said cuts to Queen Mary's Accident and Emergency department could lead to its closure, after it was announced a new GP-run urgent care centre was due to open in September.

IN JULY, the Times exclusively revealed a wish-list of 18 cuts to healthcare in the area after a leaked email from a manager at Queen Elizabeth's Hospital, Woolwich.

The email confirmed there were proposals to cut Queen Mary's Accident and Emergency and maternity unit and emergency surgery at Lewisham - DESPITE repeated denials from health chiefs.

IN SEPTEMBER, Derek Conway slammed the NHS secrecy surrounding their review of Queen Mary's hospital, calling it 'a sentence of lingering death'.

The Times took its campaign, along with hundreds of YOUR signatures, to the Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

IN OCTOBER the Times exclusively revealed Bromley Hospital NHS Trust desperately needed to make a £23 million saving last year (2007) as debt accrued from botched PFI deals soared to £99 million this year (2008).

Their recovery plan said 10 per cent of current hospital services would be cut, prompting fears that patient care will suffer.

Our campaign gets the full backing of Bexley council.

Campaigners warn overcrowded wards at Princess Royal University Hospital, Bromley are putting patients at risk of MRSA after a leak revealed the hospital has a bed occupancy rate of 95 per cent, well above 'safe' levels of 85 per cent.

IN NOVEMBER, health policy expert Dr John Lister branded research in a pre-consultation document by A Picture of Health, recommending changes to NHS services in the area, as 'one of the most deceptive and fraudulent documents I have ever seen'.

We revealed that four health trusts appointed one chief executive despite denials that the trusts have been merged.

IN DECEMBER, Bromley's Princess Royal University Hospital re-directed all ambulance admissions to Queen Mary's, Sidcup after a surprise influx of casualties.

We revealed the proposed cuts to Queen Mary's will not pay off the NHS debts in the area.

Campaigners slammed Sir George Alberti's report Outer South East London Service Reconfiguration - Review of Clinical Case for Change, which gives the green light to axe facilities at Queen Mary's Hospital.

IN JANUARY, the government refused to answer our question of whether it will pay off health trust debts.

The A Picture of Health consultation got underway and we reported how scores of confused residents needed help to fill out the questionnaire which was branded 'a joke'.

IN FEBRUARY, the British Medical Association slammed government plans to open polyclinics nationwide to replace some hospital services.

Some 300 residents turned up to confront Sir George Alberti on the downgrading of Queen Mary's Hospital. Twenty-one people resigned from Queen Mary's Hospital after plans to close the Accident and Emergency unit were revealed.

Maternity patient, Nicola Hall, who had a still birth at Queen Mary's Hospital, said downgrading maternity services will endanger the lives of babies.

AN inspection at Princess Royal University Hospital in FEBRUARY found a catalogue of shocking lapses in hygiene, including blood-stained beds, dirty portable toilets and poor sterilisation procedures.

Labour's Lewisham MPs finally come out publicly slamming the government's A Picture of Health proposals. The husband of a maternity patient at Princess Royal University Hospital, who had a surgical swab the size of a handkerchief left inside her after a caesarean, said the hospital 'should get its 'house in order' before taking on more patients.

IN MARCH, more than 2,000 people took to the streets of Sidcup to show the strength of feeling against proposed hospital cuts.

The Times revealed there has been a dismal response to the health consultation sparking fears that the community's views will be left unheard.

Twenty-three consultants at Queen Mary's Hospital finally took a stand against proposals by A Picture of Health to downgrade their hospital.

We reveal Princess Royal University Hospital had to divert non-emergency pregnancies for more than 31 hours, which campaigners say shows the hospital will not be able to cope with plans to dramatically increase patient intake.

What next?

The fight to save our services continues.

The controversial consultation by A Picture of Health ends this week, but we will not stop being YOUR voice against planned cuts to emergency and maternity care.

We will scrutinise the response and make sure YOUR views are listened to. We will ensure YOUR responses are taken seriously - including those of you who refused to fill in the questionnaire and sent it back saying 'no cuts to Queen Mary's Hospital'.


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