Council starts legal process against A&E downgrade

Pic: Michael Crouch

Pic: Michael Crouch

Lewisham Council has given the Government until February 22 to withdraw its decision to downgrade Lewisham A&E before they seek to challenge the decision in court.

In a letter to the Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt sent late last week, the council outlined its plans to seek a judicial review if the decision to downgrade Lewisham Hospital’s emergency and maternity services is not withdrawn.

The pre-action letter from the council states: “The Council’s firm view, on legal advice, is that the TSA had no power under the relevant statutory regime, to consider, or to make recommendations to you about, services provided by any NHS body other than South London Healthcare, the Trust to which you appointed him. It follows from this that you, in making a decision on the TSA’s recommendations, had no power to make a decision which purports to affect the operation of Lewisham Hospital.”

The Mayor of Lewisham Sir Steve Bullock said the decision was “a kick in the stomach for Lewisham’s community.”

He said: “The plans were roundly rejected by local people, by the staff who work in the hospital and by local GPs. We will now fight to save Lewisham Hospital by challenging this decision through the courts.”

The Council has also sent a similar letter to the Trust Special Administrator Matthew Kershaw.

The Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign said they are also carrying out a “separate and complementary legal action.”

Olivia O’Sullivan, a Save Lewisham A&E campaigner, said, on behalf of the campaign, “we are very happy that the council is going ahead with this.”

The campaign also said on their website: “The decision by Jeremy Hunt to accept the TSA proposals to downgrade Lewisham Hospital is a disgrace.

“Many people in our community are very angry that Hunt has refused to listen to the people of Lewisham and completely ignored our GPs and clinicians. Our campaign goes on!”

Speaking at Goldsmiths before the decision was announced, the Mayor said: “The only reason why the Government suggests it’s better to save the Queen Elizabeth instead of the Lewisham A&E is because the Lewisham site is more expensive.

“If the Government gets away with what is being suggested in Lewisham then other hospitals will go after. They are trying to set a precedent.”

The full article can be found here (

The Government announced on January 31 that Lewisham emergency and maternity services would be downgraded as part of plans to dissolve the South London Healthcare NHS Trust.

The ‘Legal Challenge Fund’ has been set up by the Council for people who wish to support the campaign. More information can be found here. (

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