Reaction to South London Healthcare Trust, Lewisham Hospital decision
PUBLISHED: 16:00 01 February 2013
Campaigners and MPs reacted to the health secretary's decision to downgrade Lewisham Hospital A&E, which could have serious ramifications for Bexley residents.Queen Mary's is a hospital in name only.
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.
Queen Mary’s Hospital in Sidcup, which is part of the failing South London Healthcare Trust (SLHT), saw its A&E department close in 2010. Under the plans, it will become a ‘health hub’ while retaining its name.
Campaigner Julie Mott said: “Queen Mary’s will be nothing more than a health campus.
“A lot of people have said to me that the service they’ve received at Queen Elizabeth’s has been appalling and taking on more who would have gone to Lewisham’s A&E is only going to exacerbate that - Darent Valley is also over capacity.
“Ultimately I think the reconstruction will mean more deaths. A lot of people don’t realise the implications of this decision but they will in time.”
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.
Many Bexley patients were redirected to Queen Elizabeth in Woolwich after Queen Mary’s A&E shut and 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.
Old Bexley and Sidcup MP James Brokenshire said: ““The original PFI to set up South London Healthcare Trust was a mistake and I do think my constituents have been given the raw end of the deal.
“But I don’t agree that Queen Mary’s will cease to become a hospital.”
But Teresa Pearce, MP for Erith and Thamesmead, countered: “Queen Mary’s is a hospital in name only.
“Queen Elizabeth (in Woolwich) is already over capacity and that’s where most of my constituents would go to so I’m very worried about the downgrading of Lewisham Hospital’s A&E.”
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.