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Tories must honour promise to keep A&E'

PUBLISHED: 12:10 20 May 2010 | UPDATED: 17:57 25 August 2010

CAMPAIGNERS have urged the Conservatives to honour their promise and immediately stop all forced A&E and maternity closures.

CAMPAIGNERS have urged the Conservatives to honour their promise and immediately stop all forced A&E and maternity closures.

The Tories pledged to halt Labour's plans to close the emergency department at Queen Mary's Hospital, Sidcup (QMS) this September.

Under the current plans, the already over-stretched Princess Royal University Hospital, Farnborough (PRUH) will have to shoulder the burden of QMS' 999 cases.

Health campaigners warned the Conservatives not to renege on their pre-election promises which they said was a matter of saving lives.

But Geoff Martin from London Healthcare Emergency, an umbrella organisation against hospital cuts in the capital, said the public must help jack up the campaign.

He said: "The harsh reality is now dawning. The public needs to show its level of anger, if we don't the politicians will bulldoze right over us.

"The only thing that will save it is an upsurge in the callings for politicians not to renege on their pledges. We need to stand up and fight and mobilise as quickly as possible. The time for consultation is gone."

The Times has campaigned since 2007 to save the A&E and has exposed numerous flaws in the results and method of the 'A Picture of Health' consultation which recommended its closure, garnering support of Mayor Boris Johnson.

Newly elected MP for Old Bexley and Sidcup, James Brokenshire, has been in close contact with Health Secretary Andrew Lansley and stands by his word to save the frontline services.

He said: "I have been firing off letters to the hospital trust, to all local GPs. There will be no forced closure."

Mr Brokenshire said he is investigating dismantling the merger of Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich, QMS and the PRUH which formed the South London Healthcare Trust (SLHT) last year.

But SLHT currently has a deficit of more than £240million and Mr Brokenshire said the merger is not working.

He said: "I am concerned about what steps have been taken by the hospital trust, to see if they are trying to present it as a fait accompli."

Mr Brokenshire denied that it was irresponsible of the new government to keep the A&E open in light of the PCTs struggling to afford it, claiming savings could be made elsewhere in the NHS.

John Hemming Clark, who stood for the same constituency under Independents to Save Queen Mary's, said Mr Brokenshire needed to "put his money where his mouth is."

The Department of Health said it was too early to say whether the government could save QMS' A&E.

A spokesman added: "That promise was made on behalf of the shadow health secretary in a pre-election promise."

A SLHT spokesperson said: "In the first 12 months since the merger there has been a marked improvement in the quality of care for patients.

"We are always keen to discuss the proposed changes with MPs and have arranged a meeting between James Brokenshire and the Trust chief executive and chairman for next week.

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