11:18am Friday 9th November 2012
By Sarah Trotter
PROTESTERS will form a human chain around Lewisham Hospital in a bid to halt “nonsensical” plans to close the A&E and maternity services.
Hundreds packed two overflowing halls at Save Lewisham Hospital's A&E public meeting at the hospital last night to voice their concern at the proposals.
Community outrage was coupled with a fighting spirit to oppose the plans at all cost, with Mayor of Lewisham Steve Bullock saying the council will throw its full weight behind the campaign to stop it.
It comes after South London Healthcare Trust administrator Matthew Kershaw recommended that Queen Elizabeth Hospital’s A&E take the majority of cases from Lewisham and shut the hospital’s maternity unit.
But people at the meeting refused to back down and will symbolically link hands around the hospital on November 24.
Sir Steve Bullock pledged his support saying: “This is complete nonsense and I am going to deploy the recourses of the council in every possible way to put a stop to it.
“I know how difficult public services are at the moment but to propose to rip the heart out of a hospital that is so important to a quarter of a million of people as Lewisham is – I find it staggering.”
Former midwife at Lewisham Hospital Frankie Turner – who retired in May this year – says there simply is not room at other hospitals for mums-to-be if the maternity services were to close.
The 60-year-old said: “There were 4,400 births in Lewisham Hospital last year. If you close our maternity services, where will they go?
“Daily I had to phone around hospitals like the Queen Elizabeth and Kings, and they said “no we can’t take anybody.
“There were times when I was phoning north of the river to get one patient taken. There’s no room in other hospitals.”
Lewisham East MP Heidi Alexander launched an online petition against the proposed closures which currently stands at 9,341. To add your name visit ipetitions.com/petition/lewisham-hospital/signatures
To make your voice heard about the future of SLHT visit the online consultation – which will be handed to Parliament on January 7 - at tsa.nhs.uk. The consultation closes at midnight on December 13.
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