Eastlondonlines today declares its support for the campaign to stop the closure of both the A&E and maternity units at Lewisham Hospital.
We believe that it is important for local communities to have good access to vital health services such as accident and emergency, and maternity units. We believe the closure plans put forward by Trust Special Administrator Matthew Kershaw to help solve the South London NHS Trust’s debt of £65m, do not adequately provide for the needs of local people.
Lewisham Hospital runs at 95 per cent capacity, has overseen 4,400 births this year and serves up to 120,000 people annually. If both units close, residents will have to travel to Woolwich’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital in an emergency.
Since the public consultation period began on November 2, the campaign to save the hospital’s services has received widespread support both locally and nationally. November 24 saw “one of the biggest local movements to stop hospital closures in living memory”, as 15,000 people descended on Lewisham to hold hands around their “beloved” hospital. See our report here.
With just nine days to before the consultation period over the closures comes to an end, ELL will focus closely on this important local issue. And because we recognise that there are two sides to every argument, we will also allow those who have proposed the closure to present their case.
Tonight, hundreds of local people are expected to turn out to confront Kershaw, who will be presenting the case for closure at a public meeting at the Calabash Centre on George Lane in Lewisham.
Over the next few days, ELL will put forward the views of local MPs, campaign organisers, hospital workers and residents, before the consultation period ends on December 13. We also want your views – please tweet @eastlondonlines using the hashtag #savelewishama&e
But first, ELL spoke to the residents who could be hit hardest by the potential closures.
Suragi Mendis, 28, who lives off Lewisham Way, said that it would be a terrible loss for the community if the A&E shut down. “It is the young people who will suffer the most,” said Mendis, who is training to be a doctor. “Most of them have not used it as yet. They do not know how important it is to have an emergency unit in the area, some of the young people are not even aware that its shutting down. We have tried to spread awareness through protests and campaigning, so I hope they fight for it.”
Mother of one Nadine Elliott said it was a shame the borough’s residents are not being taken into consideration. “It’s really terrible. I was born at that hospital and so was my son,” said the 28-year-old New Cross resident. “The hospital and its A&E have always been there. If every other hospital in the city has an A&E, why can’t we?”
75-year-old Mr. Green, who declined to give his full name, visited the A&E last week because of a blood clot in his leg. “I think it is terrible that they want to shut down a place which is there to help people. They spent millions of pounds on the building and now they don’t want us to use it. When I was there on Sunday, I saw a young man come in and collapse on the floor. The nurses and doctors rushed to him immediately. They took good care of him. If the hospital doesn’t have an accident and emergency service, what are we going to do?”
New Cross resident Liz, 25, who declined to give her second name, said: “Everyone in this community goes to that hospital. I was there last year because I was having chest pains.”
Karen Simpson, a resident of Brown Hill Road, said that she does not know what she will do if the A&E shuts down. “Where will I take my children when they get hurt or are sick?” asked the 40-year-old mother of two. “They have very good doctors and nurses at the hospital. Once when my baby was sick, I rushed her to the hospital and everyone just gathered and were quick to help.”
“If my son falls sick, I will not have anywhere to take him if they shut down the Lewisham A&E,” said Shola Adeosun, 35, a resident of Amersham Road. “I’m not taking him to a GP who will just refer him to another doctor. I will call an ambulance every time he catches a cold or has an upset stomach.”
One woman, who wished to remain anonymous, said that the Lewisham Healthcare Trust was financially stable, so she failed to understand why they were shutting down the A&E and maternity units. “We have already lost one A&E in Bexley and cannot lose another one. The other hospitals will not be able to pick up the slack,” she said. “My mother used to work at Lewisham Hospital. They should put more money into healthcare, especially in poorer areas and where people do not have access to private medical care.”
More details of the campaign against the closure can be found at www.savelewishamhospital.com