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Government 'should not underestimate those they represent' - Lewisham Hospital campaigners react to High Court victory

PUBLISHED: 12:14 31 July 2013 | UPDATED: 12:14 31 July 2013

Lewisham Hospital campaigners celebrate the High Court ruling to quash a government decision downgrading A&E and maternity services. Picture: Alain Tolhurst

Lewisham Hospital campaigners celebrate the High Court ruling to quash a government decision downgrading A&E and maternity services. Picture: Alain Tolhurst

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In today's judgment Mr Justice Silber said that the decision of the Secretary of State must be "quashed" as he had acted outside his powers, and in breach of the National Health Service Act 2006, when he announced to Parliament that services at Lewisham Hospital would be downgraded and closed.

Law firm Leigh Day, representing the Save Lewisham Campaign Group, successfully argued that the decision of the Secretary of State was unlawful. They also successfully argued that the decision of Trust Special Administrator, Matthew Kershaw, was also unlawful.

Mr Kershaw proposed that the hospital should close and downgrade some of its services, including its A&E department, acute admitting wards and adult intensive care unit. He also suggested that the maternity service at the hospital should be downgraded or closed completely.

Thousands of people including Bromley and Bexley residents marched through Lewisham in January to demonstrate their objections to Mr Kershaw’s plans.

Commenting on today’s success, Dr Louise Irvine, local GP and chair of the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign, said that she had been overwhelmed by the support from people around the UK.

“This is an incredible day,” she said. “We are delighted for every single person who has supported the campaign and those who will now continue to benefit from this extraordinary hospital. The support from thousands of people in Lewisham is a very real demonstration of the Big Society.

“David Cameron himself said that there would be no top-down approach to closures and we appreciate the court’s decision which should serve as a reminder to this Government to not forget their promises and not to underestimate those who they seek to represent.”

Rosa Curling from Leigh Day, said: “When the Secretary of State appointed the Trust Special Administrator to investigate and develop recommendations on the future of South London Healthcare NHS Trust, he promised that there would be no “back-door approach to reconfiguration” and there would be no reconfiguration of neighbouring NHS services delivered by other NHS bodies beyond the South London Trust.

“He broke this promise - in fact, his decision regarding south London included a substantial reconfiguration of services delivered by other NHS bodies beyond south London and in particular in relation to Lewisham Hospital. The court has today agreed that the TSA and the Secretary of State has no legal power to do this and has emphatically made clear that this decision should be quashed.”

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