Lewisham A&E will continue with reduced service:maternity unit becomes ‘midwife-led,’ says Hunt

Jeremy Hunt pic: Conservative Party

This is the live blog from 31/01/13, it is now ended.

In a long awaited statement on local hospital services, Jeremy Hunt, The Secretary of State for Health, announced in Parliament today that Lewisham Hospital A&E will be reduced in size by a quarter and maternity services will become midwife led. Eastlondonlines has been covering the story as it develops throughout the day.

14:06 Dr Louise Irvine. a local in Lewisham and active campaigner: http://www.savelewishamhospital.com/today-31st-january-2013/

“It’s time to build on what we have and mount the biggest-ever defence of a local hospital. Hunt’s decision has gone against us – he proposes a reduced A and E unit, but the removal of Lewisham’s clinically excellent maternity and children’s services under the guise of providing ‘better health services’.  We are asking all supporters who are able to gather at the hospital from 5.30 onwards. We marched in unprecedented numbers on Saturday to make our voices heard. Yesterday at the Department of Health we handed in a giant petition signed by 1000s on the march as well as the petition signed by over 50,000 people online and on the streets of Lewisham.  The legal fight will begin, with the Council, and the campaign will take this forward  in many other ways.”

13:50 Goldsmiths Student Union meeting right now regarding Hunt’s decisions.

13:30 Jeremy Hunt’s official statement in full. : http://www.dh.gov.uk/health/2013/01/slht-decision/

“The Secretary of State understood the financial rationale for downgrading Lewisham A&E, but in the interests of local patients has imposed some additional clinical safeguards proposed by Sir Bruce.  Lewisham Hospital will retain its ability to admit patients with less serious conditions, and will continue to have 24/7 senior medical emergency cover, allowing it to remain open as a working A&E department.”

13:25  Sir Steve Bullock, the Mayor of Lewisham, gives his reaction to Hunt’s decision:

“The Secretary of State is riding roughshod over the people of Lewisham. These plans have been roundly rejected by local people, by the staff who work in the hospital and by local GPs. The Secretary of State has pressed ahead regardless by downgrading maternity services and emergency services at Lewisham Hospital. But let me be clear, this is not the end of the matter.

“I do not believe that the TSA had the statutory power to make recommendations about Lewisham Hospital and the Secretary of State therefore has no power to implement them. I will be talking to our lawyers and we will also of course need to talk to our colleagues at Lewisham Hospital in order to fully understand the implications of Mr Hunt’s statement.”

13:20 Michael Crouch of Unison gives his response: “I’m an old fashioned working class guy and my working class roots tell me that this is not what the community were begging for. I nursed for 23 years in mental health and disabilities at Bromley, and now I work for Unison. It’s the most overwhelming show of solidarity by a community I have ever seen in my career. Why shouldn’t the people get what the people want? Save our Lewisham NHS have been fantastic. It was the communities campaign, and that’s why Unsion stood side by side and with them. Regardless of everyone’s opinions and so called experts, the people of Lewisham spoke as one and have been ignored.”

13:05 Jos Bell, from Save Lewisham Hospital said: “They have retained a degree of the A&E which is good news for the elderly and some emergencies. But the travel time, [Hunt said] is completely wrong.  This is nonsense. We shot a film and found out that it takes two hours, not two minutes.”

12:51: Tony Sullivan, specialist in children’s medicine at Lewisham Hospital gives his reaction to Hunt’s proposals. “The consultation truly was a disgrace. We are not against change, but access to care will be greatly reduced – it’s a danger to children’s care. This will rip the heart out of the hospital.”

12:46 Heidi Alexander, the MP for Lewisham East, gives her reaction to the proposals

[tweet https://twitter.com/heidi_mp/status/296958264095150080]

12:40 John Lister of campaign group Health Emergency condemns proposals:

[tweet https://twitter.com/JohnRLister/status/296960582836428801]

12:29 Discussions over Lewisham A&E come to end. Overall, Lewisham will keep it’s A&E, but with reduced services. Maternity will go to a midwife lead centre

[tweet https://twitter.com/BelyndaRand/status/296955666982109184]

[tweet https://twitter.com/SthLondonPress/status/296947615101239296]

12:20 Teresa Pierce: “There will be an increased health need to people in my constituency. It is proven that they will become more deprived over the years. If time shows that Hunt’s decision was not right, will he resign?” Hunt reminds her that these proposals wills save 100 lives a year.

12:19 Hunt: ”We need to do complex surgery on a smaller number of sites.”

12:15 Hunt: “Nobody else has been able to come forward with another proposal that does not have an imapct on neighbouring hospitals. £5.5m is the total cost of failure of the last government. I recognise how hard [Lewisham] constituents have campaigned over these proposals.” Hunt has agreed to cross party talks over the matter.

12:13 Helmut Heib, the joint secretary of Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign says : “The fight is on! Hunt announces effective closure of Lewisham Hospital – immediate rally tonight from 18:00 outside Lewisham Hospital.”

12:10: Hunt: “I have not accepted the TSA’s proposals in their entirety. I have put in place additional safe guards.” He says Labour’s lack of ideas in resolving these problems carries it’s own high degree of risk.

12:09  Tessa Jowell, the MP, Dulwich and West Norwood,  for  says South Londoners will take from this that maternity and A&E have been downgraded. 

12:07 Hunt says it is necessary to centralise the provision of more complex services, including complex births and pregnancies. It will now apply to people of Lewisham for conditions such as pneumonia and meningitis.

12:05 Alexander: Proposals is far from what her constituents deserve. Hunt asks her to understand the clinical rationalities of what is being proposed. “Women who have a high risk pregnancy would prefer to travel a bit further if it means they have  better clinical outcomes.”

12:05 Hunt: ‘There isn’t a closure. The way to reduce the number of maternal deaths in London is to centralise the number of sites that can deal with more complex births. That is what this proposal is doing, and it will lead to fewer deaths in Lewisham and south east London.”

12:00 Joan Ruddock, MP for Lewisham Deptford praises local protesters:  “Today’s proposals are a sham and a shambles. Instead of allowing rushed TSA process, surely he must allow GP commissioning group to the job for which he set them up – to lead a consultation process properly and understand what are the clinical needs of local people.”

Hunt says he inherited the sham and shambles. He understands clinical oppositions to proposals, but says they support the  proposal that complex procedures should be done form fewer sites. What he proposes will save 100 lives a year.

11:58 Hunt: “In the end, the thing that matters most is the clinical considerations. Doing this will save lives. The people of south London need certainty over the future of their hospitals.”

11:57 Hunt says Labour closed nine maternity units when they were in power, and that Labour didn’t give any alternative proposals.

11:55 Hunt: “The apology over whats happening SLHT needs to come from Labour – they were the people who failed to sort this problem over very many years – they were the party who set up the two PFI deals in 1998. They are responsible for the £1m being bled from the hospital every week. the legislation I have followed actually came from the Labour party when they were in government.” Hunt says Labour party took away Lewisham residents right to appeal, and condemns Labour’s lack of contrition.

11:50 Burnham goes on“They have set a financially driven process, drawn up in his own department, leaving the secretary of state’s so called four tests in tatters. Dr Helen Tattersfield said: ‘If TSA proceeds as planned, not only will it result in reduction of quality and provisions for Lewisham residents, but it will also lead to the effective end of clinical led commissioning in Lewisham.’ They have failed the four tests. Is what hunt announced today legal? Will Hunt issue an apology to people of Lewisham? The people of Lewisham will continue the fight and we will support them.”

11:50 Shadow Secretary of State for Health Andy Burnham responds to Hunt’s statement: “Closure should never have been proposed; Hunt has crossed a line, in letting one hospital pay for another trusts mistake. It sets a dangerous precedent.”

11: 49: Hunt: “Proposals as ammended could save up to 100’s of lives every year. I have decided to accept the recommendations of the trust special administrator, subject to adjusments recommended by Sir Bruce. Implementation of proposals will be challenging and complex. I expect SLHT to go into by administration by April 2013.”

11:46: More complex cases will go to other hospitals, such as Kings and Queen Elizabeth

11:45: The key decision is announced by Hunt: Lewisham A&E will still not be closed, but will be reduced by a quarter

11:42 Hunt: “Unit should be replaced with a free standing mid wife lead unit. £36m has been earmarked to ensure there will be sufficient capacity at other sites.”

11:38 Hunt “Public campaign around Lewisham services has highlighted just how important the hospital is to their community. It has highlighted how unfair it feels to people. I do understand their very real concerns about how changes will affect their access to health services. I’ve had indepth discussions with members representing those affected.”

11:37 Hunt: “I”ve accepted each of these recommendations in full”

11:36 Hunt: “I support Kershaw’s analysis”

11: 35: Hunt: “SLTH is the most financially damaged in the countryIt has generated a deficit of 153m”

11: 35 Hunt is now speaking  in the House of Commons

11:26 Dr John O’Donohue awaits Hunt’s decision

[tweet https://twitter.com/themedicaldon/status/296939763607412736]

11:15 The Save Lewisham Hospital campaign will be holding a rally outside Lewisham Hospital at 18:00 today if decision is announced to close A&E

11:10 Dave Berry shows his support

[tweet https://twitter.com/SAVELewishamNHS/status/296936927507144704]

11:01 A local journalist who has been following the campaign is nervous about the announcement this morning

[tweet https://twitter.com/KateSLP/status/296920711430279168]

Jeremy Hunt will announce today the long awaited on controversial decision on the future of Lewisham Hospital, which is facing the downgrading of its A&E and maternity services. Follow our liveblog today as event unfold in this major story for our area.

Local feelings are running high. A demonstration of some 25,000 marched through Lewisham in defence of the hospital last weekend, local football team, Millwall, have come out in support and yesterday  a rap video was launched with local rapper Question Musiq and the Lewisham hospital choir.

A&E Consultant and tenor singer, Dr Chidi Ejimofo, who also working on a track of his own, said: “Our A&E has just had a £12million re-vamp – we see blue light patients every day. Many of these would not make it to neighbouring hospitals.”

At a meeting at Goldsmiths on Tuesday, organised by the Goldsmiths’ Labour Party,  Sir Steve Bullock, Mayor of Lewisham pledged to take legal action if Hunt decides to close the A&E. Sir Steve said:  “If Jeremy Hunt goes forward with the decision of closing the hospital on Thursday morning, I’ll be calling the lawyers on Thursday afternoon.”

 Meanwhile you can read all the background to the story and explore the details on this interactive timeline prepared by Neil Hawkins  Lewisham Hospital timeline

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