Cookie policy notice

By continuing to use this site you agree to our cookies policy below:
Since 26 May 2011, the law now states that cookies on websites can ony be used with your specific consent. Cookies allow us to ensure that you enjoy the best browsing experience.

This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

Hunt opts to downgrade Lewisham A&E

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has rejected plans to close Lewisham A&E and instead decided to downgrade it so that it does not treat the most urgent cases, after opposition from the local CCG.

Mr Hunt told Parliament today that a review by NHS Commissioning Board medical director Sir Bruce Keogh concluded that to maintain a reduced A&E in the hospital, which will treat up to 75% of the patients who currently use it.

But the local CCG said they were ‘disappointed’ in the decision and that the plans were ‘not a real solution’ for local needs.

Mr Hunt said the A&E department would no longer treat the most urgent cases including high-risk pregnancies, he said.

The trust special administrator appointed to look at the failed South London Healthcare NHS Trust, Matthew Kershaw, had recommended that the A&E should be replaced with an urgent care centre that would treat 50% of patients currently admitted.

This recommendation sparked ire among local clinicians, and became a test case for the power of clinical commissioners to influence the make-up of their local health economy.

Mr Hunt told Parliament: ‘The public campaign highlighted how important [the A&E department] was to the local community. I understand the sense of unfairness felt.’ He also acknowledged that these concerns were echoed by the CCG and local clinicians.

However, the health secretary estimated that the overall changes to south London healthcare – including the downgrading of Lewisham – would save around 100 lives a year.

Lewisham CCG chair Dr Helen Tattersfield told Pulse that Mr Hunt’s decision to retain Lewisham A&E at a reduced size ‘was not a real solution’ and it amounted to a ‘tweaked urgent care centre’.

She added: ‘I am not at all pleased and I am very disappointed. It is what everyone inevitably thought he would do. We had hoped for better. We gave very sound arguments about why the process was flawed and why the decision was dangerous.

‘They were reasoned arguments but none of them have been listened to.’

Related articles

Dr Helen Tattersfield: We have not been listened to

Reaction: Hunt decision over Lewisham A&E

Blog: Hunt has fudged the Lewisham question

Hunt refuted suggestions, most notably from Lewisham Council and shadow health secretary Andy Burnham, that the trust special administration legislation did not allow the administrator to reconfigure services outside the affected trust.

Sir Bruce said: ‘Healthcare in South East London is at a turning point. We need to strike the right balance between ensuring that all patients have access to the best possible specialist treatment whilst providing safe, effective and convenient services close to home.

‘I expect that balance to result in about three quarters of patients currently seen in Lewisham A&E continuing to receive complete care at Lewisham Hospital and about a quarter being transferred for more specialist treatment elsewhere.’

Readers' comments (4)

  • Politics

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Vinci Ho

    So what agent Hunt said was the A/E would be definitely closed if it was not for the 15,000 people protesting.
    What is the lesson we learnt here, my friends???

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Wow. CCGs are so powerful and GPs are totally in control, except when someone else is in control. Did the CCG really want a 'gimped' A&E?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I guess he couldn't find a SpAd to do his dirty work (and take the wrap) for him this time - so he had to back down rather than look (even more) ridiculous?
    I think we can be sure that the remaining ones will be transfered by stealth at a later date under cover of his darkness and despite any Public, CCG or GP concerns!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say