Campaigners have mounted a legal challenge of the Government decision to downgrade Lewisham Hospital’s maternity and emergency services.
The challenge, made on March 12 by activist group Save Lewisham Hospital, relates specifically to Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt’s justification of the January decision.
Jos Bell, spokesperson for the organisation, told Eastlondonlines: “We’re questioning Jeremy Hunt’s claim in the Commons that the decision to downgrade Lewisham Hospital has the approval of GPs, the approval of clinicians, has local people engaged and will improve patient choice.
“None of these criteria have been met.”
The challenge came five days after Lewisham Council applied for a separate judicial review of the decision.
The local authority’s application argues that NHS trust special administrator Matthew Kershaw did not have the authority to recommend the move to Hunt in the first place.
In a statement, the council said: “The TSA was appointed to South London Healthcare Trust only. He was not appointed to Lewisham Healthcare NHS Trust.”
Both moves follow an ultimatum delivered last month to Hunt by Lewisham Council to reconsider downgrading services at Lewisham Hospital by February 22, or face legal action.
A downgrade would lead to the significant loss of medical services at the hospital. Bell said: “The College of Emergency Medicine said that the new A&E Jeremy Hunt described for Lewisham would not actually constitute an A&E. With no intensive care, no acute ward and no admitting service it would just be an urgent care centre.”
Any implementation of recommendations by Kershaw will now be put on hold until court proceedings are completed.
Save Lewisham Hospital’s legal team have indicated that the challenge may take three months to be heard. The council has requested that their High Court application be processed as quickly as possible.
Bell said: “Lewisham Hospital remains very much open for business.”