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Lewisham Healthcare Trust rejects A&E closure

New £12million Lewisham emergency department. Pic: Lewisham Healthcare NHS Trust

Lewisham Healthcare NHS Trust has released a draft response to the ‘transformation recommendations’ that could force their A&E and maternity units to close, rejecting proposals put forward by the Trust Special Administrator.

The Healthcare Trust stressed that the consultation process carried out by the TSA had made it “impossible to have the engagement and involvement that proposals such as these would normally warrant,” and said that the hospital’s clinicians feel that they have not been listened to throughout the consultation period.

The report concluded: “The TSA recommendations will result in worse, rather than better, care for the people of Lewisham.”

The draft response quoted the TSA, who described Lewisham hospital as having a “strong leadership team”.

“This ‘strong leadership team’ recommends that it should retain the ability to decide what is necessary to ensure the long term clinical and financial sustainability of the new organisation – working with patients, local people, GPs, other partners, commissioners and staff.”

While the LHT supported the proposal of a merger with Queen Elizabeth Hospital, they maintained that services will not improve if the A&E and maternity units shut.

In their presentation, they said: “Specifically, we do not believe that the quality of services to the people of Lewisham would be maintained, never mind improved, if the emergency department were to close along with medical and surgical emergency care, maternity services, children’s services and critical care.

“We expressed an interest in running Queen Elizabeth Hospital as together we would be better able to improve services and meet regulatory requirements. However, we do not believe that the prescriptive approach to service change adopted by TSA is the pathway to [a] successful merger.”

Their 41-page slideshow argued that the figures used by the TSA to suggest that Lewisham Hospital may not be financially stable in the future were much higher than the LHT’s own predictions.

They added: “The TSA has assumed significantly worsening financial forecasts, far worse than those available for our Foundation Trust application  – approved by NHS London in June 2012.”

Although it did not support the closure of both units, the LHT did accept that financial problems have caused a need for change in the NHS.

“The board acknowledges [the] challenging financial position facing [the] NHS. We recognise the need to respond effectively to the challenges faced by the NHS and will not shy away from difficult decisions.”

Each year the Lewisham emergency care department treats 115,000 patients, 20,000 of which are admitted as emergencies. If the secretary of state Jeremy Hunt implements the TSA’s six recommendations in February 2013, many patients will have to be treated at other hospitals in south London.

Yesterday the Save Lewisham A&E campaign also released their official response, slamming TSA Matthew Kershaw’s recommendations as lacking “any convincing evidence”. They also described the consultation process as “nasty, brutish and short”.

The LHT board publically delivered details of their response on December 4, to an audience that included Sir Steve Bullock, Mayor of Lewisham. Their response will be finalised this week and sent to the office of the TSA.

To read the full draft response, click here. For more details on the proposed closures see our other articles.

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