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Health secretary recommends downgrading of Lewisham Hospital A&E

PUBLISHED: 12:20 31 January 2013 | UPDATED: 12:20 31 January 2013

Bexley residents are due to lose out after Lewisham A&E was downgraded by the Health Secretary today.

Jeremy Hunt said Lewisham’s A&E has been preserved and up to 75 per cent of the patients who currently use the department will still be able to but those with more serious conditions will be sent to other hospitals.

The proposed closure of Lewisham’s A&E had been met with huge opposition and more than 25,000 people took to the streets on Saturday to protest.

The A&E department at Queen Mary’s Hospital in Sidcup closed in November 2010 and many Bexley patients were redirected to Queen Elizabeth in Woolwich.

The change to Lewisham A&E’s services could see Bexley patients face longer waiting times as the Woolwich site will bear a lot of the extra patient load.

Some Bexley emergency cases are also taken to Darent Valley in Dartford but last month its A&E closed as it was over-capacity.

Mr Hunt also agreed that Queen Mary’s should become a “health hub” but it will retain its name.

South London Healthcare Trust (SLHT) will be dissolved by no later than October 1 this year and it has run up debts of £153 million while losing around £1.5m a week since it was formed in 2009.

SLHT’s Private Finance Initiative debts will be written off as the trust was drowning in a huge deficit – spending 16 per cent of its annual income (£69 million) on repayments.

PFI was used to build Queen Elizabeth and the Princess Royal in Farnborough, and repayments are much higher than government-financed projects.

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