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Town hall bosses to fight A&E closure plans

PUBLISHED: 17:59 30 July 2008 | UPDATED: 15:45 16 August 2010

A DOSSIER of evidence is to be built up to challenge a decision to axe hospital A&E and maternity services. Bexley council s scrutiny committee is due to agree to challenge a decision by NHS bosses to cut services at Queen Mary s Hospital, Sidcup (QMS),

A DOSSIER of evidence is to be built up to challenge a decision to axe hospital A&E and maternity services.

Bexley council's scrutiny committee is due to agree to challenge a decision by NHS bosses to cut services at Queen Mary's Hospital, Sidcup (QMS), next Monday.

The council will take its case to the secretary of state alone after scrutiny councillors from across south-east London failed to agree to the action last Thursday.

The Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (JHOSC) voted six for, six against challenging A Picture of Health's (APOH) consultation on hospital reconfiguration.

Sharon Massey, Bexley council's cabinet member for health, said: "These changes are going to start being implemented, so we can't just sit around waiting while staff are leaving Queen Mary's.

"It's hard to say how long our case will take to build. It could be up to two weeks."

Under the reconfiguration plans, vital services will be taken from QMS and given to PFI builds Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich, and Princess Royal University Hospital, Farnborough.

Instead, QMS will be left with a centre for minor accidents and expanded planned surgery facilities.

University Hospital Lewisham is also to lose its 24-hour A&E coverage in the centralising of services.

In order for the council's case to be considered by the Secretary of State, it must first be evaluated by the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP).

Yet even if the case is approved, the IRP would only give a set of recommendations to the Secretary of State, who could then go against it.

Mrs Massey added: "This decision is absurd and we have to stand up and be counted. You feel you are fighting a losing battle, but you can't just stand back and let them take our services."

Bexley council could seek judicial review, but this would incur legal fees and only challenge APOH's consultation, rather than the PCTs' final decision as well.

Bexley council's Health and Adult Social Care and Scrutiny Committee is due to meet in the Bexleyheath Civic Offices at 7.30pm on Monday, August 4.


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