High Court rules in favour of Lewisham Hospital campaigners
PUBLISHED: 11:49 31 July 2013 | UPDATED: 11:50 31 July 2013
Campaigners fighting to save Lewisham Hospital's A &E and maternity services claimed a victory at the High Court this morning after the judge ruled in their favour.
Applause rang out in the court as the judge ruled that the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, had acted outside his powers and therefore unlawfully, in deciding to substantially cut services and close departments at Lewisham Hospital.
The court was presented with two separate judicial reviews at the beginning of July from Lewisham Council and campaign group Save Lewisham Hospital.
A three-day hearing heard lawyers argue over the legality of including Lewisham Hospital in a masterplan to dissolve South London Healthcare Trust, which has been riddled with financial problems since its formation in 2009.
SLHT, which manages the Princess Royal in Farnborough, Queen Mary’s in Sidcup and Queen Elizabeth in Woolwich, made history when it became the first NHS trust to effectively go bankrupt.
The trust’s financial failings have been well documented in the the Times’ extensive health reports over the years. We reported how around 80 top consultants had held a vote of no confidence in the medical director Roger Smith and how surgeons had patients on the operating table before realising they did not have the correct equipment because suppliers had not been paid.
Matthew Kershaw was appointed as administrator in January and opted to dissolve the trust by October.
But instead of just deliberating SLHT’s finances, he took into consideration healthcare across the whole of south London.
Under his plans, the Princess Royal in Farnborough will be taken over by King’s College Hospital in Camberwell and Queen Mary’s in Sidcup will become a health campus, with some services being commissioned by Darent Valley in Dartford.
If Lewisham A&E, a successful emergency unit had closed, it would have left the boroughs of Bromley, Bexley, Greenwich and Lewisham, with just two fully equipped emergency units for a population of over 1million people.