BBC: Lewisham A&E to be recommended for closure

The BBC is reporting that a government-appointed administrator's report on Monday will recommend the closure of Lewisham Hospital's A&E Unit (refurbished in April), with local people referred instead to the Queen Elizabeth hospital in Woolwich.

The closure would be part of a series of measures designed to help find savings after the South London Healthcare Trust (covering QE Hospital, Queen Mary in Sidcup and Princess Royal in Bromley) ran up debts of more than £150m.

The BBC has a full report here. More details to come on Monday.

68 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sounds reasonable.

Barry T Cat said...

Sounds crazy. I'm a nurse in a and e at queen elizabeth, no one here can believe it. Read this for info
http://www.savelewishamhospital.com/why-close-lewisham-ae/

Anonymous said...

And how is someone who doesn't drive and relies on public transport supposed to get to the Woolwich hospital in an emergency?

Anonymous said...

It would take me nearly half an hour to drive there. I just hope there isn't an a accident or emergency that means I need to get there quicker.

Carys said...

Is it possible to get Barry T Cat's link put in the main post? Just the thought of this makes me incredibly anxious. As someone who doesn't drive but has spent a lot of time at Lewisham hospital in the last six months, I really don't know how I'd have coped getting to A&E if it was any further away.

Ian on the Hill said...

I'm sorry? Do I live in Bexley, Bromley or Greenwich. No.
So why are we losing services for another Health Authority stupidly using the Toriy PFI con and going broke?

Oh yeah, and - at best - it's a 42 minute bus journey according to Google. And a 20 minute journey on the road instead of 9 minutes to Lewisham A&E. Which will be not so handy when I have my inevitable heart attack. I'll try to make sure it's not during the rush hour.

Anonymous said...

If anyone's really in an emergency an ambulance will come and treat you it home before moving you elsewhere. You all know this.

kolp said...

I'll wait til I read the report out on Monday before commenting fully, but suffice to say I am not pleased at what i'm hearing so far, especially the PFi involvement!

Barry T Cat said...

Yeah, but they move you to a and e. And if the nearest one is miles away and over-flowing, while under going £100million of cuts in 5 years (the administrator had already announced this to staff), there is a greater risk of harm. Not to mention when QEH is full and on divert. You could just as easily end up in dartford as kings.

Barry T Cat said...

Yeah, but they move you to a and e. And if the nearest one is miles away and over-flowing, while under going £100million of cuts in 5 years (the administrator had already announced this to staff), there is a greater risk of harm. Not to mention when QEH is full and on divert. You could just as easily end up in dartford as kings.

Anonymous said...

Right, and?

Most people don't have accidents.

Don't destroy essential services said...

Please tell me this doesn't include the children's A and E...

Anonymous said...

Many do. And many people get ill suddenly and need treatment quickly. Treatment which can't always be provided by ambulance staff. That's why we have A&E departments.

david said...

It does seem nuts. The whole point of dividing the system into different NHS Trusts (in this case South London Healthcare and Lewisham Healthcare) is that they're different organisations. This is a bit like, for example, if when Woolworths was going under the administrators had tried to sell off some of WH Smith's assets. Bonkers.

Anonymous said...

I believe the A&E waits at Woolwich are already very long...

Well done Labour for your awful PFI. Foisting a massive mortgage for QE hospital was always likely to bankrupt the trust. It looked like a mistake over 10 years ago to anyone who looked into it, so labour types can't get away with ignorant claims that they didn't know. There were plenty of articles and experts damning PFI.

And the tories/lib dems are no better by not supporting the NHS now, and supporting PFI.

And then there's the large population increase of the past 10 years that will likely continue. Can only see poor service ahead.

Aricana said...

I broke my ankle very badly at home in June and was taken to A & E at Lewisham Hospital.

They corrected the dislocation but were unable to operate for 5 days because they were so busy with more life threatening A & E cases and even had to bring in extra staff to clear the back log.

How would Woolwich hospital cope with all the cases from Lewisham.

This feels like the wrong recommendation on so many levels.

Really hope we can campaign to save Lewisham A & E.

Tressilliana said...

We've had occasion to use Lewisham A&E quite a few times over the years and it's been good, especially having a separate department, waiting areas etc for children. I don't understand the logic of this decision at all. Inner London is very densely populated and the child population is going up. Why reduce the facilities available? Lewisham is a teaching hospital which means it has a wide range of specialist services on site for A&E patients to move on to if required.

Anonymous said...

Will all you parents please stop exclusively banging on about the children? Other people live in Lewisham too you know, children aren't everyone's priority.

Tressilliana said...

Banging on? 2 comments out of 18 mention children, prior to yours.

Anonymous said...

Yes and now it's 4 out of 20 - the number of such comments is clearly skyrocketing.

Transpontine said...

The Save Lewisham A&E Campaign Public Meeting on Thursday, 8th November, 6-8pm in Lessoff Auditorium at the Hosptial (Speakers: Jim Dowd MP, Heidi Alexander MP, Mayor Steve Bullock, Dr Louise Irvine, local GP and BMA council member and others).

A demonstration 'Hands Around Our Hospital' is planned for Saturday 24th November: 2pm, march from Loampit Vale roundabout to Lewisham Hospital, 3pm, link hands around Lewisham Hospital.

Anonymous said...

Little Henry fell over once and grazed his knee. Where else would I go to get a plaster?

Anonymous said...

To my fellow anon above: **** ***.

I've been to Lewisham A&E children's unit several times, fortunately for things which were not life threatening but needed more than a GP, like gluing head injuries. I've seen a lot of seriously ill children there. I've not been to the adult A&E, but imagine it is the same.

Closing it may or may not make sense. But it is an important issue which doesn't deserve trivialising, so troll on elsewhere.

You were all children too... said...

Children ARE a priority in A and E terms, particularly babies, as they go from bad to dangerously worse so quickly. Hence the importance of having a children's A and E with children's doctors within reasonable distance.

Having been lucky enough to make use of Lewisham A and E, and knowing even within my limited circle a number of other parents whose babies have been similarly lucky, I hope against hope that this basic, essential service isn't going to be removed. We need to figure out the fundamental needs of our society, THEN figure out how to fund them - not some distorted alternative which removes a life-saver.

Sue Luxton said...

Anyone else getting a feeling of deja vu? Didn't we go through all this back in 2008/9 with the Picture of Health 'consultation'? It was a daft idea then and it still is now.

Anonymous said...

So, close the A&E department in one health authority that has just had millions spent on it and opperates OK, and instead send people to QEH, who are in administration because that Health authority can't run a proverbial in a brewery?! Makes total sense - not! Why not close QEH A&E, who are struggling anyway?

Anonymous said...

Could you update the main article with the fact that Lewisham A&E just had a 12 million GBP refit, that's the refurb in April.

http://eoin-clarke.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/the-1st-ever-bankrupted-nhs-trust-has.html

Anonymous said...

Please everyone lets get out from behind our computers to save lewisham A&E...its not gone yet.

this is a start http://www.savelewishamhospital.com/

tell your friends and neighbours

Remember Camerons billboards? Ill cut the deficit and not the NHS? Bare faced, airbrushed, lies. Lewisham is the 5th A&E ive heard about closing in London and there may be more.

Anonymous said...

Re The frankly odd comments suggesting tha prioritsing children's A&E would be some kind of middle class concession... "Poor little Henry" etc. I don't have kids but am glad I am not so chippy or so ignorant of the facts which are that children and especially babies aren't very good at telling you when or where they have symptoms and usually deteriorate much more quickly than adults in the case of serious injury which is why GPs and NHS Direct will always say don't mess about if you suspect your child needs medical attention just get them to A&E pronto. Kids are also often trickier to treat too because they don 't come with a long medical history and are just, well, smaller and less cooperative. Try getting a blood sample from a squirming toddler's vein or catching a urine sample from a 3 month old!! I have nothing but good things about the children's A&E unt at Lewisham and would hate to see it OR the main unit closed. So I will be joining the fight if it comes to that.

Aricana said...

@anon 02.19

Thanks for the save Lewisham A&E website link:

http://www.savelewishamhospital.com/

Tamsin said...

If anyone is free during the working day on Tuesday week there is also the Pensioners Forum sub-group "Save our NHS" that's been trying to raise awareness of what's been going for for six years or so. It is open to all ages (unlike the Forum) and their next meeting is Tuesday 6th November in the Saville Centre, 436 Lewisham High Street, SE13 6LJ, a couple of blocks south of UHL. When the meeting was set Tim Higginson the Chief Exec of UHL was going to attend, but that is now not possible. Although we do have it agreed that once this meeting has discussed the report the consensus views and proposed action will be taken to a personal meeting with Tim.

Anyone is welcome to come along on 6th November.

Tamsin said...

PS - I see I didn't say the time - need to double check when back in the office, but I'm pretty sure it is 2pm.

Mezzer said...

As far as I'm concerned, this is the most important and potentially worrying local news for some time. I'm definitely getting involved.

Barry T Cat said...

The meeting on 8th november 6-8 pm is vital. It's at the hospital, so no excuses if you live in ladywell or brockley.

Local MP, GP, hospital union rep, active campaigner from greenwich all talking. Thus far, the mayor isn't confirmed. And very senior executives from the hospital should be speaking... But maybe from the floor, they can't confirm yet.

Lewisham hospital hasn't asked for this. And the meeting will be a good place to find out how to help. Hopefully there will be posters to distribute, depends if they can get money to print.

Teahound said...

Thanks Transpontine for the info, we'll definitely be going along to the demonstration on the 24th.

Margot said...

Is there anywhere I can sign in favour of the proposals?

It's getting ridiculously predictable how whenever there's a reasoned plan to consolidate hospitals, some local community group is guaranteed to ignore the entire argument and just scream "NO!"

How about we take a more holistic approach?

Brockley Nick said...

@"Margot"

"Is there anywhere I can sign in favour of the proposals?"

The proposals haven't been announced yet. So not sure why you're accusing others of knee-jerkism.

"It's getting ridiculously predictable how whenever there's a reasoned plan to consolidate hospitals,"

Yes, it's entirely predictable that when a hospital department is closed, people who are going to have their lives impacted by it should be unhappy and opposed to it.

"some local community group"

It's not a 'community group', it's people from all walks of life, with all kinds of needs. You say 'community group' as code for 'middle class', but the better off can drive to Woolwich relatively easily. It's the poor and vulnerable who will be hardest hit.

"is guaranteed to ignore the entire argument and just scream "NO!""

I think some very good arguments in favour of keeping it have already been made. Impracticality of reaching Woolwich, lengthy existing waiting lists, the fact that Lewisham has just been refurbished and the fact that it's being penalised, despite having been run responsibly. You've ignored all these arguments. It's you who's being blinkered.

"How about we take a more holistic approach?"

Yes, maybe, let's see what the details of the proposal are and then have a sensible discussion.

But you are being a dick - trivialising people's genuine concerns as part of your ongoing "aren't middle class people dreadful" narrative.

If you want a serious discussion, encourage it.

Martin said...

My dad was in QEH about 18 months ago for some time. It is not easy to get to by public transport, I think the 89 from Lewisham goes there, but takes ages. There are better car parks than at Lewisham, but it's not cheap.

What's particularly ridiculous is that this whole thing is caused by PFI, a ridiculous idea promoted by all the main political parties. I would suggest that nationalisation is probably the bext way forward for the NHS.

Teahound said...

Maybe Margot you're lucky enough not to have needed to visit Lewisham or QEH A&E departments.

I have visited both on several occasions and for my families circumstances this just wouldn't work. I went to QEH recently with a relative who lives in Charlton and the wait time was already four hours.

If you have, let's say a heart condition, you need to go to A&E and then you'd need to be admitted to a ward. As I live locally, I wouldn't go to QEH and would instead go to Kings. I suspect many others would do the same and this defeats the whole rationale of the plan.


Anonymous said...

i SHOULD THINK ALOT OF THE WASTED MONEY WAS SPENT ON REFURBISHING THE COMPLETE HOSPITAL.AND THEY HAVE ONLY JUST COMPLETED THE A & E DEPARTMENTS THAT WHAT I CALL A WASTE OF MONEY

Ian on the Hill said...

I had reason to be at Lewisham A&E very recently and it's improved beyond all recognition since the refurbishment.
What do you think a failing and overwhelmed A&E, which is pretty much only reachable by some of the most congested and slowest roads in SE London, is going to be able to offer?
BTW, "In 1992 PFI was implemented for the first time in the UK by the Conservative government of John Major. It immediately proved controversial, and was attacked by the Labour Party while in opposition."

Tressilliana said...

Attacked by Labour in opposition, used by Labour when in power. None of them have covered themselves in glory over PFI.

david said...

As well as reducing the A&E service for the region, closing Lewisham's A&E affects SE London's ability to cope with serious incidents through the trauma network. It will leave us with just the major trauma centre at King's and trauma unit ay QEHW, that's significantly less than the rest of London. If there's a major train crash or something similiar the lack of resources could seriously impact the network's ability to cope. Insane.

Really sad said...

For whatever reason South East London is not being prioritised in that network. Horrible.
Thanks for the links and information on meetings, etc. There are very few protests I feel to be as clear cut as that against shutting this service. We need it. The people unaware of and unconcerned by this forum need it. It's a basic publicly-funded public service delivering one of the (arguably) few things we can be proud of in this country - medical care free at the point of access and delivery. Not much left of that if you can't access it...

Anonymous said...

A&e closure ear marked for as soon as feb2013. Expect marked increase in response times from the ambulance service as ambulances from the local ambulance stations will be stuck with patients for up to two hours awaiting a cubicle at the QE and the Pru and will also be stuck responding to calls within the Orpington or thamesmead area. It can take 15 to 20min to respond from Orpington to lewisham for what should be a 8 min response time for life threating emergencies. Another knock on effect of lewishams closure will be neighbouring areas such as Croydon or camberwell will be effected as the ambulance assigned to cover them will be pulled into lewisham to cover the short fall in vehicles and create a shirt fall in their own area

Anonymous said...

Under the previous government it was proposed to reduce the hours Lewisham's A&E was open and for whatever reason that was dropped.

The Hospital then constructs a new A&E + Urgent Care Centre, revamps the external layout and access, to have it announced the £12m A&E will close after just 6 months?

The Riverside building was constructed but due to a shortage of patients they had to be bussed in from King's College Hospital.

It's been reported Lewisham Hospital managers have asked to take over Woolwich's Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

Could the end result be physically a smaller hospital with parts of the land being sold off for residential use?

Rick said...

Brockley Nick. Don't be so offensive to your commentators. There is no need to swear - its both offensive and liable to cause distress. You should pay attention to your own acceptable comment policy and thE public order act / communications act.

Anonymous said...

Yeah but Margot really was being a dick.

Tamsin said...

@ Tressiliana. Totally agree - classic politics of not looking at consequences beyond the next election or, at a push, two.

The well-being of the NHS is so important that it should transcend such matters but the opposition to the Health and Social Care Bill was fragmented by politics with a big and little "p". The doctors in the BMA, having had their mouths famously stuffed with gold twice (once deliberately when the NHS was set up and then - it seems - by accident with the late 90s shake up) sat on the fence for far too long while they tried worked out their, rather than the nation's, best interests and were ultimately shamed into opposing it by the more idealistic of their members. New Labour dithered for a bit and then realised they could make political capital out of blaming the Coalition, even though the process had been well progressed while they were in power. The Socialists were vehement against New Labour and unable to forget the past. And no-one blamed the Unions and arcane employment practices that meant that vastly expensive equipment was unused for over half the time and poorly delivering workers could not be sacked.

Anonymous said...

If your having a heart attack you would be taken to a specialist hospital such as kings not Lewisham.

Rick said...

http://www.hsj.co.uk/hsj-local/briefing/analysed-the-future-of-south-london-healthcare-trust/5049925.article

This set out some of the issues

Anonymous said...

@ MARGOT

This is going to affect lots of people's lives.

But I guess it's easy to wash your hands of other people's problems when you can arrange for a private doctor / medical team to be chaffeured to your five storey mansion on top of the hill, away from the stench of common people.

Please keep on living in a bubble.

Fattyfattybumbum said...

Why should Lewisham have to pay for South London Trust messing its finances?

Tressilliana said...

Anon 10:06: Lewisham is a specialist hospital, if by that you mean a teaching hospital with the full range of clinical services. Anybody who calls an ambulance in Brockley is likely to be taken to Lewisham Hospital in the first instance, as I know from personal experience, and it's only rarely that the patient would then need to be transferred to another hospital.

If Lewisham A&E is closed, anyone who can make their own way to an A&E dept from SE4 will surely choose to go to King's, not Woolwich. Have the powers that be thought about that?

Logistics? said...

It's actually easier to gte to Whitechappel, if you live near one of the East London Line stations. The tube's right by the (full-to-capacity, in my experience when I lived in the area and had cause to use it) A&E.
On what basis is this assumption being made that people would go to Woolwich rather than King's or Whitechappel???

Anonymous said...

Is there a PFI in operation at Lewisham Hospital?

If the A&E closes and other services could it find itself underfunded and unable to meet the cost of any PFI scheme it may have?

The short fall at Woolwich reported 8 years ago, when assurances were given by Patricia Hewitt.

Tressilliana said...

Yes, at least one of the new buildings at Lewisham Hospital was funded by PFI. My guess would be more than one. It has been more or less the only way to get any new building done in recent years for NHS Trusts and schools.

Anonymous said...

It may seem trite, but I wouldn't go to Woolwich for anything. So earlier posters comments about people going to Kings or even the Royal London seem bang on the money to me. What will the bean counters do then, turn down treatment to Lewisham residents at these hospitals?

Mc said...

It is going to make ill patients and pregnant mums wait even longer for getting admitted to hospitals far off and increasing the number of mums delivering in the cabs, ambulances and corridors. None of the surrounding hospitals (QEH woolwich, Kings, St Thomas', PRU bromley) has got any capacity to deal with the extra 4000 births/year and more than 100,000 A&E attendences which Lewisham Hospital is managing at the moment.

Ladywell1 said...

I live very close to Lewisham A&E and have made use of it recently with a broken hand (football injury) and with a young child with croup. In the second instance I was able to walk there carrying a very distressed three year-old who couldn't breathe properly and was then seen in the specialist children's A&E - if I had to go to Woolwich then it would either take a huge amount of time late at night with a distressed child or involve me calling an ambulance (putting more stress onto an already over-worked system). This proposed closure is a terrible idea.

Lou Baker said...

Seriously people - get a grip.

If you are seriously ill an ambulance will take you.

If you can drive yourself - frankly it's not an emergency.

If you're going on public transport you don't have to go to Woolwich. You can go to Kings or Guys - both of which are close to stations and easily accessible from Lewisham.

I know the likes of Ian on the Hill, Tressilianna and Tamsin like to scare you. If they ran the country the tube would have diamond encrusted platforms and the local council would offer a backside wiping service. They believe no one has to show individual responsibility and that the state (ie: you through your taxes) should pay for everything.

The NHS has a budget. It has to stick to it. Services are changing, consolidation is not always bad and when Lewisham A&E closes they can go on complaining about something else instead. Something else they expect you to pay for.

If you want to pay 80% tax listen to these people. There is not a problem that they believe more government and bureaucracy can not fix. There is not campaign group that's not worth joining. There's not a service that's inefficient or unnecessary.

Bigger - as the NHS proves - is not always better.

max said...

Hopsitals cost tax money...Lou doesn't like it...destroy...destroy...

Anonymous said...

The situation has arisen because of the dodgy financing of the Strategic Area Health Authority system. These remedial measures to fix the finances of the Health Authorities have now undermined the local provision of services and leading to hasty rationalization.

What next? Will the new area structures face the same problem in a couple of years? Will it force another wholesale reorganization, again making a mockery of the work that has been done?

I suspect that absurdities of this reorganization is the thin end of the wedge. There will be examples of the same sort of thing all over the country.

It is not just a local issue and there is a crisis brewing.

Tressilliana said...

Lou, that is a ludicrous twisting of what I and others have said on this thread. Misrepresenting what others have said minimises the chance of anyone else taking your views seriously, you do realise that, don't you?

Anonymous said...

I agree with Lou. Local Labour types would rather continues throwing money at things and living on the never-never.

max said...

You see Tressiliana, there are people who likes simplifications like this chap calling anyone disagreeing with Lou as "local Labour types" and then resolving the whole thing with dumb soundbytes like the perennial never-never.

The truth is that this report doesn't chimes with reality when it describes the inconvenients it will provoke if implemented.

This is a reduction in Hospitals' capacity across South London only that A&Es are already spaced apart as much as they should be, they're all very busy, people working there are already stretched and any reduction will have a serious impact on the lives of many and when they really don't need the aggravation.

Maternity and the Children's A&E are essential services for local people that are already struggling because of the stress that raising children brings and the last thing they need is to add travelling time and waiting time to use these services at other hospitals.

In case people without childeren wonders, parents use A&E quite a lot because small children can't speak so if they look unwell the right thing to do is to go to A&E because it's better to be safe than sorry.

These are front-line services of the very basic kind, there is no extra- abundance to cut out, and this is the reason why this plan must be opposed.

kolp said...

This proposal damages Lewisham as a borough. It's one thing not to have a dedicated cinema, tfl cycle hire, and the area's pubs to be continually under threat but for there to be no full A&E service nor maternity service in the whole borough... I find this unacceptable.

This part of London seems to continually get the rough end of the stick.

That women & their partners HAVE to have babies a fair distance away. Thus restricting their choice and if you have an accident you're not sure do you go to Lewisham's 'emergency care' or Woolwich and not be flippant I don't even where that hospital in Woolwich is, I probably know more about the geography of Mars than I do Woolwich, ie it feels alien.

There is a fair amount of deprivation in this borough taking away our precious medical services just entrenches that.

Roderickarmitage said...

Having as a lawyer crawled through this voliminous report, I cannot see how, under the legislation appointing the Trust Administrator, he is empowerd to make any recommendations other than relating to the Hospitals in the South London Healthcare Trust. This does not include Lewisham.

I will be drawing Heidi Alexander's attention to this and suggesting she asks a suitable question of the Secretary of State as a matter of urgency.

Brockley Central Label Cloud