March again for Lewisham Hospital on Saturday

Save Lewisham Hospital poster
A little late with this, but you might know about it anyway – the second march to save Lewisham Hospital’s A&E (and by extension, its maternity unit) takes place at noon on Saturday, after the administrator of the PFI-wrecked South London Healthcare Trust decided not to listen to overwhelming evidence and opposition and recommend its closure anyway. There’s a good roundup of recent events in the battle at Transpontine.

I’ve been disturbed at some of the sectarian comments flying around the ether about this debacle – particularly since the media has jumped on the bandwagon. Yes, as the excellent Dr Phil Hammond put it, Lewisham is “collateral damage in a war it didn’t start”, not being part of the PFI disaster which began at Woolwich’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital and spread to Princess Royal in Farnborough and Queen Mary’s in Sidcup.

But this isn’t “Lewisham against the world”. Nobody on the Greenwich side of the border asked New Labour to wreck our local hospital with a PFI deal, and nobody sane this side of the border wants the Tories to wreck someone else’s local hospital to save ours.

This affects all of SE London, from St Thomas’s at Lambeth and King’s in Camberwell, right out to Darent Valley in Kent. It’s not just Lewisham’s battle, it’s all of SE London’s fight. More broadly, it’s a battle for the NHS as we all know it.

And if you are stupid enough to look at this parochially, then news that a 76-year-old woman waited in Queen Elizabeth’s A&E for 18 hours should chill you, and make you wonder how it’d cope if Lewisham goes.

Actually, this has brought out the best in SE London’s politicans (with the possible exception of Harriet Harman, seemingly focused on King’s as Camberwell & Peckham MP to the exclusion of all else) – read the Commons debate on the south London NHS fiasco.

I’ll be there on Saturday, as I was last time – will you?

(Read past coverage, and patients’ testimonies, of Lewisham Hospital.)

One comment

  1. Lucy N.

    Did you read Keogh’s statement in The Guardian this morning about reining in political influence on provision? I understand his argument – and I also can see that a doctor’s perspective can look like trying to adapt medical provision to fit their world view rather than the patient’s (travel difficulties, being near friends and family support, being near their home…..).

    He is trying to steer the debate away from local fury at proposed closures wherever they take place. Don’t let him do this in reference to Lewishan Hospital, because the serious issue here is Jezzer Hunt using a PFI induced crisis as an excuse to restructure willy-nilly – roping in, if necessary, well-managed, financially stable, medically successful and well placed facilities as far as can be got away with. This could set an appalling precedent: potentially de-stabilising provision across an entire region. And yes, London is peculiar – London is a metropolis- with an ungridded road planning considerably influencing the placing of hospitals, ambulance stations and so on.

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