Lewisham Hospital's A&E department is threatened with being downgraded to a non-admitting urgent care centre following a review of healthcare provision in South London, which has also recommended a number of other cuts to the services offered by the hospital. Click here for details.
A campaign has been launched to save it from closure and a meeting will take place this Thursday, to discuss next steps.you can sign the petition here.
The designated alternative to Lewisham A&E would be the Queen Elizabeth Hospital by Woolwich Common, which is already overcrowded and hopelessly hard to reach for anyone without a car. The campaigners point out that Lewisham's closure would leave a population of 750,000 with just one A&E department between them and would mean mothballing an A&E department that underwent a costly refurbishment earlier this year.
The review was ordered after a Trust of three hospitals accumulated debts of £150m between them. Lewisham was not one of these hospitals, but faces the most severe cuts as a result. Some argue that because Lewisham was not part of the Trust that incurred unsustainable levels of debt, its residents should be insulated from any cuts. BC doesn't subscribe to that view - such cuts as are necessary (and there is a good argument to suggest that central government should do more to protect front-line services in this case) should be administered to minimise harm to South East London residents as a whole. It's not the fault of Greenwich, Bexley or Bromley residents that their hospital managers messed up.
The whole mess illustrates the problems of a decentralised system - Trusts cannot truly be held accountable for their bad decisions, because healthcare is too important to allow hospitals to go to the wall.