South London Healthcare Trust Hunt announcement imminent

The fate of South London Healthcare Trust is due to be announced imminently.

Under the controversial proposals, Lewisham’s A&E will close, with patients re-directed to the overstretched Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich.

It is believed the announcement will be made at 11.30am this morning by health secretary Jeremy Hunt.

Up to 25,000 people marched to save Lewisham’s A&E on Saturday.

Speaking before the announcement, Beckenham MP Bob Stewart said: “I hope it’s not a political decision. I don’t follow the logic of closing Lewisham A&E. I don’t want The Princess Royal or Queen Elizabeth affected either and I certainly don’t want the Beckenham Beacon to close.”

Queen Elizabeth Hospital took on half of Queen Mary’s patients when the Sidcup hospital’s emergency department shut in November 2010.

If the plans go ahead it will now have a catchment area of around 750,000 people, including Bexley residents who will have to wait even longer for emergency care.

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham criticised the proposed changes at Lewisham, saying: “If that were to be approved, I believe it would set a dangerous precedent to the NHS when the NHS is taking out A&E capacity on the basis of finance, not on care and quality, and that is a line over which the government must not cross.

“What is being proposed is to solve the financial problems in one trust, the suggestion is they take away the A&E of a successful trust next door.

“Now that isn’t reconfiguration on the premise that we’ve been doing it for the last however many years, which is there must be a clinical case for change.

“I’ve seen no clinical case, looking at the wider impact on A&E across south London.

“There hasn’t been an A&E under this pressure where there are already safety concerns. How can you just take out A&E on the back of fairly arbitrary financial calculations?”

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