Lewisham Hospital closure dominates BBC Question Time from Goldsmiths
THE proposed closure of Lewisham Hospital A&E and maternity services dominated last night's BBC Question Time as hundreds of protestors gathered outside the Goldsmiths broadcast.
Audience members had been concerned that the closure proposals - recommended this week by the administrator of the neighbouring South London Healthcare Trust - would be deemed too local for the show, despite ramifications for the wider NHS.
But protestors brandishing placards gave panellists on their way in no doubt of the borough's anger and both Nadine Dorries MP and Big Issue founder John Bird spoke on the show about the discussions they had with campaigners.
When the panel was asked about whether the NHS was safe in David Cameron's hands - the third question of the night - a huge round of applause and cheers went up from the audience.
Ed Davey told the programme he was "extremely alarmed" about the Lewisham proposal, saying: " That's really weird in this deicison is Lewisham Hospital isn't part of the trust that's got the debt."
He said of the SLHT debt: "I don't see why that should impact on Lewisham."
Despite attempts by chairman David Dimbleby to bring the discussion back to the general NHS, comments kept returning to Lewisham with panellists seeming to agree with the protestors.
One audience member, referring to plans that would sell of part of the hospital site, said: "The views of people in Lewisham, the views of all the clinicians in Lewisham, the views of all the GPs in Lewisham have been deliberately ignored."
Ms Dorries, a former nurse, promised to speak to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who now has the final say on the plans, saying: "Really, Lewisham is coming in to save the bad financial arrangements that were set up for the other two hospitals.
"It's not fair."
An audience member asked: "Nadine, If you're going to see Jeremy Hunt tomorrow would you take some of us with you?
"We're trying to get a meeting with him and he doesn't want to talk to us because he thinks he's already done this consultation and it was a complete sham."
Ahead of Mr Hunt's decision, due on February 1, a mass demonstration is planned for January 26, meeting at Loampit Vale by Lewisham station from 12 noon.
Visit the campaign website for details at savelewishamhospital.com
To view last night's programme visit the BBC website