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Lewisham Council sets deadline for Hunt judicial review

Council leaders have given health secretary Jeremy Hunt until 22 February to reverse his decision on downgrading the A&E at Lewisham Hospital or face a legal challenge.

Mr Hunt last week revealed plans to downgrade Lewisham A&E following proposals made by the trust special administrator who was looking into the failed neighbouring South London NHS Healthcare Trust, and despite opposition from the local CCG.

Pulse first reported last month that council leaders in Lewisham were preparing a legal challenge, and it follows news that the clinical members of the CCG are considering their positions.

The letter sent to Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt from the council says: ‘The Council’s firm view, on legal advice, is that the TSA had no power under the relevant statutory regime, to consider, or to make recommendations to you about, services provided by any NHS body other than South London Healthcare, the Trust to which you appointed him.

‘It follows from this that you, in making a decision on the TSA’s recommendations, had no power to make a decision which purports to affect the operation of Lewisham Hospital.’

It added that the council will give Hunt until 22 February or will reverse the decision.

Mayor of Lewisham Sir Steve Bullock said: ‘Jeremy Hunt’s decision to press ahead with the downgrade of Lewisham Hospital’s maternity and emergency services was a kick in the stomach for Lewisham’s community.

‘The plans were roundly rejected by local people, by the staff who work in the hospital and by local GPs. We will now fight to save Lewisham Hospital by challenging this decision through the courts.’

The council is asking residents to contribute to a legal fund to fight the Government’s decision.