Desmond Tutu gets behind the campaign to stop Kershaw’s “scandalous” plan to close Lewisham A&E

Pic: Joshua Wanyama

The campaign to Save Lewisham Hospital is steadily building momentum, after Nobel Prize winning Desmond Tutu pledged his support by promising to stand “foursquare behind the petitioners”.

The former Archbishop of Cape Town slammed the TSA’s proposals to close the A&E unit at Lewisham Hospital, describing the recommendations made by Matthew Kershaw as “scandalous”.

Malcolm Hancock, Chaplain for Lewisham NHS HealthTrust, contacted Tutu because the Archbishop opened the Riverside building at Lewisham Hospital, which provides modern inpatient facilities, in 2007. Tutu himself was a resident of Lewisham in the 1970s.

Hancock explained: “Given his links to the hospital, I contacted him to let him know about the proposals to close the full A&E and maternity services at Lewisham, which is a high performing and financially solvent NHS Trust.

“Although Desmond Tutu is currently on an educational world voyage, he responded straight away and asked for his name to be added to the petition against the proposals.  He said that he stands foursquare behind the petitioners, and described the plans to close down vital services as ‘scandalous’, and that he hoped good sense will prevail.”

The campaign to stop the A&E from being turned into a non-admitting urgent care centre has also received another high profile boost this week. In an unprecedented move, Millwall Football Club has come out and publically backed the campaign. The club have gone so far as to move Saturday’s match against Aston Villa to Friday night, to allow supporters to attend the protest against the closure of the A&Ewhich begins at 12pm on Saturday.

In a statement released on their website, the club said: “Whilst changing the date of our cup tie is an inconvenience to us, we believe there is a bigger picture here.

“Millwall Football Club, our players, staff and many thousands of fans have, over the years, had reason to be grateful for the resources, facilities and care we have received from our local hospital.

“We are not persuaded by the arguments put forward in favour of closing the A&E department, children’s ward, intensive care and maternity services at Lewisham.”

As a further gesture of support, Millwall football players will be warming up for their match against Burnley wearing special t-shirts in support of the campaign, and have asked fans to attend Saturday’s demonstration.

Eastlondonlines will be reporting live from the protest, which kicks off at Lewisham Roundabout, and ends with a rally at Mountsfield Park. Goldsmiths students will be marching from the Richard Hoggart Building, alongside the fireman’s contingent of the South London Firebrigades Union. Lewisham College are also starting a feeder march, and may be joining Goldsmiths students en route to Lewisham roundabout.

For more information on the demo, click here.

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