Lewisham A&E - hush hush on the QT

Hundreds of people gathered outside the recording of BBC One's Question Time at Goldsmiths tonight in protest against the threatened closure of Lewisham Hospital's A&E department. Let's see if it's had the desired effect and influenced the debate this evening. The show starts at 10.35pm.

22:31 - BBC London has reported the protest ahead of the broadcast.

22:36 - It's started. Not sure Dorries and Prescott are who we'd have wished for to give this issue the spotlight we need, but the Goldsmiths crowd will have to cut their cloth accordingly.

22:40 - Dorries did at least acknowledge the issue on Twitter, saying that locals are worried about traffic problems. That's not the point in BC's view - it's the fact that a population of 250,000 and counting will have no A&E ward and we're being told to use a relatively poor service in Woolwich instead.

22:43 - In the comments, Sue reports that the audience were told the issue was too local to debate. So here's hoping someone managed something like "Do the panel agree with the disastrous decision to close vital services at Lewisham Hospital in light of the delightful news that Kanye West and Kim Kardashian are expecting a baby?"

22:48 - "Hospitals" just got a mention. That might be all we get...

22:50 - Prescott: "something, something, tax avoidance, something, something, Tories." Incoherent ramble nonetheless manages to draw a rousing round of applause. Unlikely to endear Jeremy Hunt to Lewisham.

22:56 - Dorries quoting accurate employment stats and being frowned at by man in audience for suggesting that the private sector is doing a good job at creating jobs.

23:02 - It's a shame QT felt the need to go back to the well about whether Dorries should have gone on IACGMOOH. No, of course not. Move on. It is not an interesting question. There are hospitals to be saved. Still, good bit of sarcasm from the guy in the crowd who expressed sympathy for her crowded summer schedule.

23:12 - Still talking about Dorries. Prescott reminds us of his flirtation with celebrity. I've said it before and I'll say it again: democracy simply doesn't work.

23:13 - "David Cameron claimed the NHS was safe in his hands. Given the cuts and closures, is this still the case?" Well done that woman. Dimbleby explains the accompanying cheers were about Lewisham A&E.

23:14 - Ed Davey - one of the best ministers around - spells out the issue nicely and says he's alarmed. Notes he fought similar issues in his constituency.

23:15 - Davey says he's opposed to it but won't pre-judge the Health Sec's decision. Fair enough.

23:17 - Woman in audience says views of local people have been ignored. "Brand new facilities will be sold off under this plan."

23:19 - to his great discredit, Dimbleby doing his best to move the debate on to the general question about the NHS. So instead of a real issue that can be dissected to show what health care policy looks like in practice, we can have more vapid soundbites. Even Dorries is happy to move it back to Lewisham - blaming Labour PFI. Dorries says Lewisham is a good hospital.

23:21 - Dimbleby asks how it can be fair that Lewisham can be sacrificed to save worse hospitals. Dorries (attempting to have a go at Labour) says it isn't fair. Says she's opposed to it and will relay the messages of the protesters to Hunt.

23:22 - Ed Davey says local Lib Dems are campaigning against the proposal.

23:23 - Canny man in the audience presents this issue as a test of whether the NHS is safe in the hands of this government. That's got to be the approach. Make this a litmus test.

23:24 - Camilla Cavendish says she's been speaking to Lewisham doctors. Says that we risk rewarding bad management. Solvent, good care at risk. She says that Hunt should give Lewisham management wider responsibilities rather than shutting it down.

23:26 - This is great. John Bird raises the question of whether Lewisham is being hit because it's a left-leaning place. Says it may be a scurrilous accusation, but one he's happy to raise on national TV.

23.32 - The combined efforts of protesters, doctors and the audience ensured that the Lewisham Hospital issue was dealt with properly tonight. All sides came out in favour of saving the hospital and the political stakes have just been raised for Hunt.