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Politicians condemn hospital A&E axe

PUBLISHED: 17:16 24 September 2008 | UPDATED: 15:21 25 August 2010

POLITICAL parties and local authorities have joined forces in slamming a decision to axe hospital services.

POLITICAL parties and local authorities have joined forces in slamming a decision to axe hospital services.

The Joint Overview and Scrutiny Committee (JOSCH) voted last Wednesday to refer the decision to axe A&E and maternity services at Queen Mary's Hospital, Sidcup (QMS), to the Secretary of State for Health, Alan Johnson.

This comes a month after Bexley council launched their own battle against the decision by the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts (JPCTS) on August 4.

The JOSCH, which is made up of councillors from Southwark, Lambeth, Lewisham, Greenwich, Bromley and Bexley, voted six to four against referral.

Both Lewisham and Greenwich councillors voted against referral.

Bromley Conservative councillor Roger Charsley said: "My colleague and I voted to appeal to the Minister of State because of the proposed closure of the A&E at QMS, in support of the councillors from Bexley.

"Although the hospital is not in Bromley, many of our residents are taken there in an emergency because it is the nearest A&E unit and they are concerned about additional time it would take to travel by ambulance to Princess Royal." Lambeth Liberal Democrat councillor Rob Banks said: "I was concerned that there may be a knock on effect on maternity services across the rest of the area including Lambeth and Southwark.

"It is very clear that people in Bexley are not happy with what is happening to their hospital. So I think, as an elected politician, the Secretary of State for Health should take personal responsibility for this decision and not hide behind unelected civil servants. Which means the consultation must be referred back to the Secretary of State."

Bexley councillors welcomed the decision.

Sharon Massey said: "It is a positive step. There will now be two separate referrals which can only add weight to the appeal."

Lewisham councillor and chair of the committee Sylvia Scott, who voted against referral, said: "The JOSCH decided very early on that no change was not viable and therefore there was indeed a need for change and it stands to reason not everyone would be happy with the proposals and we in Lewisham still have our concerns but will be monitoring all the changes as they happen or are proposed."

The JOSCH are due to meet early next month to agree the content and supporting evidence for the referral.

marina.soteriou@archant.co.uk

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