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Boris: I'll stand with you

PUBLISHED: 11:15 10 July 2008 | UPDATED: 15:00 25 August 2010

THE London Mayor has vowed to personally give evidence to an independent panel revising plans to cut A&E services.

THE London Mayor has vowed to personally give evidence to an independent panel revising plans to cut A&E services.

As Kent residents wait to hear whether their A&E unit at Queen Mary's Hospital, Sidcup (QMS), will be axed, Boris Johnson has said he will throw his weight behind our campaign to save our services.

South-east London NHS bosses on the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts (JCPCT) are expected to decide how to shake up hospital services within the next two weeks.

They are faced with three options that residents were consulted on between January and April, all of which include axing the A&E unit and possibly maternity and children's services in Sidcup.

However, because the consultation has been slated by campaigners and politicians assigned to scrutinise it, the London Mayor expects the matter to go for independent review.

In an e-mail to a Sidcup resident, Mr Johnson's government relations deputy, and former Bexley council leader, Ian Clement, said: "During the campaign, Boris strongly opposed the downgrading of general hospital services, including at Queen Mary's Hospital.

"Our understanding is that the proposals on Queen Mary's will be examined by the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP).

"Boris has asked NHS London that he is able to give evidence to the Panel in support of maintaining local service levels."

The IRP consists of 15 laymen, clinicians and managers who could independently scrutinise A Picture of Health's (APoH) consultation and proposals.

Anyone can give evidence to the Department of Health funded body, which would give recommendations to the secretary of state.

But councillors on the Joint Scrutiny and Overview Committee (JSOC) must complain to the secretary of state in order for the IRP to carry out an initial assessment.

Sharon Massey, Bexley council's cabinet member for health, said the other way to overturn a JCPCT decision to axe services at QMS, is through the courts.

She said: "When we have the next scrutiny committee on July 26 we will consider whether to push for a judicial review.

"But it's a tough choice. If Bexley council went for it alone, it would cost the council and therefore residents thousands of pounds.

"But whatever the JCPCT decide, it will have nothing to do with what they are now discussing.

"They have just dismissed a lot of our concerns and fears, so we're just sitting here waiting."

A date is yet to be set for the JCPCT public meeting, to debate, decide, and possibly vote on which hospital services will be axed.

It is expected to take place before July 22 when Parliament goes into recess.

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