Although the legal battle to save Lewisham A&E has been won, the “creeping privatisation” of the NHS is set to continue, a meeting at the House of Lords heard last night.
Campaigners gathered to celebrate the publication of the “Report of the Lewisham People’s Commission“, which includes details of June’s inquiry, when members of the community heard from a panel of medical experts, chaired by Michael Mansfield QC.
Mansfield has warned the Coalition Government that Save Lewisham Hospital campaigners “haven’t finished yet” in their fight against what they view as the “privatisation and marketisation” of the NHS.
Speaking at the launch of the Lewisham People’s Commission report at the House of Lords on Wednesday evening, the QC praised the work of campaigners and said that local residents must continue to “take the law into their own hands,” as “those that are responsible can no longer be trusted.”
The People’s Commission was one of the highlights of the Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign, which triumphed in October as the government’s repeated attempts to downsize the hospital were defeated at the Court of Appeal.
Mansfield repeatedly criticised the government, pointing to the amount of taxpayers’ money spent on their attempts to downsize Lewisham A&E and criticised the “vested interests” of members of both the House of Commons and Lords.
Medical ethics expert, Baroness Mary Warnock, said that despite her joy at the campaign’s success, she felt “gloomy” due to the threat of “creeping privatisation”.
Louise Irvine, Chair of the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign, echoed Baroness Warnock’s message, saying: “Although we won, the fight isn’t over, they may well come back for another go at Lewisham.”
Despite the warnings, the mood at the event was celebratory, with a video collating some of the best moments from the June event drawing rapturous applause from attendees.
Toyim Adeyinka, 33, a mother who relied on Lewisham Hospital throughout her pregnancy, and a supporter throughout the campaign, said: “I can’t say enough in terms of how proud I am of the job we’ve done – they picked on the wrong people, the wrong borough.”
“We won, this is something that has to be celebrated and shouted from the rooftops – a lot of mums and families in general are so relieved.”
Lewisham Hospital A&E consultant, Dr Chidi Ejimofo, said that there would be no more “talk of using the Lewisham model” from the government and added: “The model has disappeared, I hope some sense of sanity has started to prevail.”