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Hospital cuts: Comment

PUBLISHED: 10:54 24 July 2008 | UPDATED: 15:04 25 August 2010

AFTER more than a year of campaigning, our fear has been realised - health bosses have given the go-ahead to cutting vital emergency and maternity services at Queen Mary s Hospital, Sidcup.

AFTER more than a year of campaigning, our fear has been realised - health bosses have given the go-ahead to cutting vital emergency and maternity services at Queen Mary's Hospital, Sidcup.

Despite thousands of you joining our campaign, which we took to the doors of Downing Street, our pleas have been ignored. Councillors, MPs, London Mayor Boris Johnson and even hospital staff have slammed proposals to close Queen Mary's A&E. Thousands marched through Sidcup and Lewisham earlier this year protesting against the planned closures and many more signed petitions urging the Prime Minister to take action. But the chairman of the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts (JCPCT) made it clear on Monday that the wants and needs of the people are not on the agenda when he said: "The responsibility for the decision is ours alone, no change and no decision is not an option."

Despite a 14-week consultation involving 'workshops' and questionnaires, the majority view of the people of Bexley, Bromley, Greenwich and Lewisham was overruled in favour of a decision that is financially motivated.

Why else would a perfectly efficient A&E department be closed in favour of a unit five miles away? Could it be to help bail the already struggling Princess Royal University Hospital, Farnborough out of its £99 million debt? Surely this reconfiguration of healthcare provision can only benefit the Bromley NHS Trust with extra investment and expansion whilst patients in neighbouring boroughs lose out. Perhaps paramedics will be faced with even more split second decisions that will literally be a matter of life and death as they estimate where the nearest available A&E unit is for their patient to get treated quickly. Closing surgery theatres at Orpington Hospital will save just £1 million and A&E and maternity cuts at Sidcup will save a little bit more - a "drop in the ocean" some say. But what of the £8.8 million already frittered away on the Orpington surgical theatres that are to be closed anyway or the £1 million spent on a public consultation branded a 'joke' by many? If finance takes precedence over the views of the people, surely these NHS Trusts should be a little thriftier with our cash? The only option now is to keep fighting for our right to a health care that is worth every penny that we shell out.

Urge your councillors to push for a judicial review, write to your London Mayor to make sure he lives up to his pledge and get your MPs to do their constituents' bidding.

After all, the health of our community is priceless.

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