Residents urge Times: FIGHT ON FOR OUR HOSPITAL

PUBLISHED: 14:39 03 June 2010 | UPDATED: 18:00 25 August 2010

FURIOUS patients have urged the Times to fight on for vital A&E services at Queen Mary s Hospital, fearing the Conservatives pre-election promises to reopen it will not happen.

FURIOUS patients have urged the Times to fight on for vital A&E services at Queen Mary's Hospital, fearing the Conservatives' pre-election promises to reopen it will not happen.

The Conservatives promised to reopen the hospital unit in Sidcup, which closed temporarily during the night last September and which is due to be axed permanently this September.

However, Department of Health chiefs in the new coalition government can still not confirm if the future is safe for the much needed unit.

MP for Old Bexley and Sidcup, James Brokenshire, had a 90-minute meeting with the chief executive of South London Healthcare Trust, Chris Streather, last Friday to discuss the possibility of another consultation.

The Times spoke to patients at Queen Mary's this week to gauge their reaction to the proposals.

Dan Coffey, 79, from Abbey Wood, said: "Yours is an excellent campaign. I'd have to go to Darent Valley Hospital. Closure plans are disgusting. It will take me an hour-and-a-half. I don't believe in promises with the economic situation as it is."

Michael Butler, 66, from Bexleyheath, said: "A campaign to keep a facility such as this is very good.

"We have wide choices here but we have to travel. If a delay of a short amount was to affect my long-term care I wouldn't be happy."

Your campaigning Times revealed last week that bosses at South London Healthcare Trust (SLHT) said they were pressing on with the permanent closure of the A&E and the maternity units at QMS and have not been told to stop.

Denise Board from Erith said: "I'm furious. There's such a need for closure. The nearest hospital to me is Darent Valley or Woolwich. Everybody I know can't believe they're getting away with this. It will put more strain on ambulances.

"We all know it's going to close but why are they hiding it? Lots of people depend on this hospital.

"The Tories will fight for a little while and say we gave it our best shot."

Patricia Bacon, 76, from Eltham, said: "I don't believe the Tories. They all say things to get elected. If someone has an accident they would have to travel further."

Harry Brown, 79, from Sidcup, said: "I wouldn't like to see it close. It's disgraceful. They will gradually close it down. I think it's an empty promise by the Tories. They fought for it to get the publicity during their campaign."

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said he would fulfil election promises but refused to comment on the future of individual hospitals. He said: "I am fulfilling the pledge I made before the election to put an end to the imposition of top-down reconfigurations in the NHS.

"We are committed to devolving power to local communities - to the people, patients, GPs and councils who are best placed to determine the nature of their local NHS services.

"Local decision-making is essential to improve outcomes for patients and drive up quality." See page 3

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