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GP-led group begins judicial review against Hunt over A&E downgrade

A group led by GPs has begun a judicial review against health secretary Jeremy Hunt because of his decision to downgrade an A&E department.

The Save Lewisham Hospital (SLH) group, led by local GP Dr Louise Irvine, is challenging Mr Hunt’s decision to replace Lewisham Hospital A&E with an urgent care centre, which was based on a recommendation by a ‘trust special administrator’ looking into financial problems at the nearby South London Healthcare Trust.

The group says that the decision failed to gain the support of local GP commissioners, as Pulse revealed earlier this year. The Government has said that support of GP commissioners is essential for hospital department closures, but Lewisham CCG board members were so opposed to the decision that they threatened to quit their roles.

The review – which is also being brought by Lewisham Council, as Pulse also exclusively revealed in January – will be held in London over the next three days.

The SLH group claims that the decision failed the other three of the Government’s four key criteria for possible hospital closures. It said: the plans did not have a clear clinical evidence base; the consultation was inadequate and 25,000 marched in protest; and the plans do not improve patient choice

Dr Irvine said: ‘The overwhelming response of the public to appeals for help with fundraising, is testament to the understanding that the government’s plans for Lewisham Hospital are extraordinarily flawed. Now we approach a point we can publicly examine the full evidence.’