A High Court judge has ruled against government plans to cut A&E and maternity services at Lewisham Hospital following a legal challenge by campaigners and Lewisham Council.
In a judgement on Wednesday July 31, Mr Justice Silber said that recommendations and decisions to cut services at the hospital must be “quashed” as the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt MP, had acted outside of his powers and in breach of the National Health Service Act 2006.
Save Lewisham Hospital campaign group chair, Dr Louise Irvine, declared: “This is real democracy. This is the real Big Society.”
“The judgement is a victory for the people of Lewisham and we have proven the government’s decisions were unlawful.”
Lewisham East MP, Heidi Alexander, said: “This is a very significant victory for Lewisham residents.”
The Save Lewisham Hospital campaign group was formed in 2012 in response to the South London Healthcare Trust Special Administrator (TSA) Mathew Kershaw proposal that, as part of cost saving measures put forward for the neighbouring NHS trust to Lewisham, that services at Lewisham Hospital be reduced.
Kershaw proposed that Lewisham Hospital Healthcare Trust should close and downgrade some services at Lewisham Hospital including its A&E department, acute admitting wards and adult Intensive Care Unit. The proposals also included a recommendation to downgrade or close completely maternity services.
Rosa Curling from law firm Leigh Day, who represented the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign group, said: “When the Secretary of State appointed the Trust Special Administrator to investigate and develop recommendations on the future of South London Healthcare NHS Trust, he promised there would be no ‘back-door approach to reconfiguration’; there would be no reconfiguration of neighbouring NHS services.”
“The court today agreed that the TSA and Secretary of State had no legal power to do this.”
The government was granted the right to appeal today’s judgement.