Hunt’s appeal against decision not to downgrade Lewisham Hospital services to be heard today

'The Fight Goes On'. Photo: Simon Way.

Campaigners at the Save Lewisham Hospital victory parade. Photo: Simon Way.

Secretary of Health Jeremy Hunt will appeal today, against a High Court ruling that the Government could not downgrade Lewisham Hospital services. Save Lewisham Hospital campaigners will be holding a rally outside the High Court on the Strand from 9.30am.

The Master of the Rolls and Lords Justices Sullivan and Underhill will hear the Government’s appeal on Monday and on Tuesday. The proceedings will start from 10:30am.

The Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign is urging people to join them for a rally outside the High Court to show support for Lewisham Hospital, as well as attending the hearing.

Louise Irvine, Chair of the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign, said: “We have now been fighting to keep our hospital safe for the people of Lewisham for over a year. The clinical and economic evidence shows that we have right on our side – we hope and trust that the Court of Appeal will prove that we continue to have a legal right to Save Lewisham Hospital.

“Promises were made in the House of Commons and we would expect the government to hold to them for the sake of the health of our population.”

Earlier this year, South London Healthcare Trust Special Administrator (TSA) Matthew Kershaw proposed in his report that Lewisham Hospital services should be reduced to save funds.

In particular, he said the A&E department, the adult Intensive Care Unit and the maternity services should be downgraded or closed.

On July 31 of this year, Mr Justice Silber declared Hunt’s decision to downgrade the hospital services unlawful, and said it breached the National Health Service Act 2006 because Lewisham hospital is not a part of the South London Health Care Trust and  the TSA did not have the right to close services in another Trust area.

The Government is now appealing this decision on that technical grounds that, according to them, the TSA does have power to make changes in the Lewisham Health Care Trust, despite it being a South London Healthcare Trust investigation.

Last Monday, the House of Lords passed an amendment to the Care Bill that will give much greater powers to TSAs when running NHS Trusts.

However, Richard Stein from law firm Leigh Day who is representing the Save Lewisham Campaign said this will not affect the Lewisham Hospital decision.

“The amendment to the Care Bill is clear evidence of why we think their appeal will fail. It seems extraordinary that within days of an appeal hearing, this Government is proposing changes to the law to invent the very same powers it is arguing, through this appeal, that it already has.”

The appeal will be heard in Court 71.

For the rest of ELL’s coverage of the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign, see our TIMELINE.

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