Government set to appeal Lewisham Hospital High Court ruling that quashed Hunt’s closure and downgrade plans

One of many Save Lewisham Hospital marches last year. Pic: Lautel Okhio

One of many Save Lewisham Hospital marches last year. Pic: Lautel Okhio

The government has said it will appeal against the High Court ruling that quashed plans to extensively cut services and close departments at Lewisham Hospital.

Save Lewisham Hospital campaigners launched the successful legal challenge against the plans outlined by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt following a long battle to protect services.

The government will now take up the case with the Court of Appeal.

Hunt had wanted close or downgrade the hospital’s A&E, adult intensive care unit and maternity services.

However in July, Justice Silber ruled that Hunt had acted outside his powers and in breach of the National Health Services Act 2006, when he announced to Parliament that services at Lewisham Hospital would be downgraded.

The judge said that Hunt’s decision was “unlawful”, so preventing the government from moving forward with the closures.

The decision to cut services at Lewisham came from recommendations made by a Trust Special Administrator, appointed by Hunt to deal with the financial collapse of the neighbouring South London Healthcare NHS Trust.

The plans were particularly controversial as Lewisham Hospital is run by its own separate NHS trust which does not have financial problems.

In a further setback for Hunt, the judge also ruled that the appointment of the Trust Special Administrator – the latest government procedure for dealing with failing NHS organisations – was also unlawful.

The government’s decision to appeal the ruling is a potential blow for the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign, which had been granted a decisive victory by Justice Silber.

Tony O’Sullivan, one of the campaign’s coordinators, said that despite being “disappointed” by the move, the team is “confident” that the appeal will be unsuccessful and the ruling upheld.

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