The Court of Appeal dismissed the Government’s appeal that the TSA had the right to make changes to the Lewisham Healthcare Trust this morning.
Jos Bell, spokesperson for Save Lewisham Hospital said: “This is a government that feels that it is above the law and Lewisham says that it is not.”
“As David Locke QC said in court – we have been collecting in buckets to fund our legal costs and the campaigning spirit in Lewisham is something we hope other campaigns elsewhere can find, especially in view of the legal amendment which the government are trying to force through now this approach has failed and which puts hospitals across England at risk.”
Tony O’Sullivan, director of paediatric services at the hospital said: “We’re not surprised. When we won the judicial review it was a very clear judgement that the government had used emergency process in a very outrageous way. They were trying to use emergency legislation to bypass normal expected consultation – which is a form of democracy.
“This was a test case and if they’d won this they would go up and down the country going into one trust and reconfiguring a whole area.”
Vicky Penner, another member of the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign said: “We are thrilled that we have won justice for the second time. I’m shocked that the government was arrogant and foolish enough to carry on bullying us to close our much needed and excellent Lewisham hospital.”
“People need to wake up around the country and understand what government policy – the effect government policy will have on their own families.”
“Justice has prevailed,” said Sherily Ali, who works in anaesthesia at Lewisham hospital. “We live in England, we’re a fair society and we live by the law.”
Rosa Curling from law firm Leigh Day, who represented the Save Lewisham Hospital Group said: It confirmed our argument all along that the Secretary of State doesn’t have the powers to make the decisions that he did to close and downgrade services at Lewisham hospital.
“We are absolutely delighted with the Court of Appeal’s decision today.
“This expensive waste of time for the Government should serve as a wake up call that they cannot ride roughshod over the needs of the people.”
Anita Down from trades union Unite said: “We’re absolutely delighted that the decision has been made. We have won another round and that’s fantastic.”
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: ” I completely understand why the residents of Lewisham did not want any change in their A & E services, but my job as Health Secretary is to protect patients across South London – and doctors said these proposals would save lives.
“We are now looking at the law to make sure that at a time of great challenge the NHS is able to change and innovate when local doctors believe it is in the interests of patients.”
Judges have for now reserved their judgement about the second point appealed by the Government, who said that the support of GP Commissioners during a reconfiguration test is not a legal requirement.
The Save Lewisham Hospital campaigners tweeted:
Appeal Court We ve won on the main Point The vires! Victory for Lewisham !!!!
— SaveLewishamA&E (@SaveLewishamAE) October 29, 2013
With additional reporting by Pippa Bailey.