Campaigners, GPs and local MPs rallied outside Lewisham Hospital today, in a bid to determine how best to save the services they are set to lose from their A&E and maternity units.
Residents met at the war memorial adjacent to the hospital to hear speeches led by local GP Dr Louise Irvine, a key figure in protests held in the borough since the consultation period began on November 2, 2012. Lewisham Mayor Steve Bullock addressed the crowd, after recently giving the campaign a boost by announcing that Lewisham Hospital would be taking legal action against Jeremy Hunt’s decision to reduce services at Lewisham.
Following proposals made by Trust Special Administrator Matthew Kershaw, Hunt decided to implement recommendations that will see Lewisham’s maternity unit reduced to a midwife led unit, and Lewisham A&E lose a quarter of their emergency services. Save Lewisham Hospital are now adopting a ‘use it, don’t lose it’ slogan, to encourage residents to use their facilities and demonstrate how necessary the services are in the community.
Speaking at the rally, Sir Steve explained the importance of choosing Lewisham: “We should still support the people working at the hospital – use it, don’t lose it.”
Trade union representatives and the Pensioner’s Forum spoke, congratulating the crowd, ‘for inspiring other movements, and waking people up to what is happening to their hospitals.’ Members of the Fire Brigade Union were also there to express their support, stressing that services were being cut across the public sector.
Labour MP for Lewisham East, Heidi Alexander, said to ELL: “I’m obviously supporting the legal action that the council are taking, and as I understand it, the legal action that the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign are taking. Jeremy Hunt can dress it up as much as he likes, but the truth of the matter is that vital services at Lewisham Hospital are going to be decimated. I think we need to come together across London to make this into a London wide issue.”
Dr Irvine explained that the campaign would now be heading in different direction: “Going forward, there are four aspects to our campaign to change this decision: supporting hospital staff with our new slogan ‘use it don’t lose it’, a public campaign against the government, as this is something that can change with an election, rallies and stalls to keep the issue at the forefront of people’s minds, and finally, we are applying for judicial review.”
A rally will be held tomorrow from 1pm at Lewisham Shopping Centre, on Lewisham High Street. For more information, click here.