Claim Lewisham A&E service in danger rejected

Claims that Lewisham Hospital A&E could be at risk of closure again because of a shortfall in local NHS funding have been rejected.

Councillor Alan Hall, chair of Lewisham Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee last week warned that the future of Lewisham Hospital A&E was in doubt after a report showed a £1 billion pound shortfall in the NHS locally over the next four years.

The warning came after the NHS Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) for South East London, published last Friday, also predicted an “additional affordability pressure” loss of £80million, due to the deterioration of financial performance of health services in the area, and ambulance services are set to suffer a £12 million shortfall over the next five years.

Hall said: The report has confirmed our deep concerns about some serious flaws in the plans … changes to the orthopaedic services could spell the end of Lewisham A&E.”

Hall added: “Because of all of these threats, I want to apply four key tests that this process has to pass. Are the plans transparent and open? Is the funding in place?  Are the public being fully consulted? And finally, will services improve?”

‘Our Healthier South East London’, the partnership of Clinical Commissioning Groups and NHS providers, which was behind the plan, rejected Hall’s comments.  A spokesman said: “The Sustainability and Transformation Plan in south east London has been clear from the outset that we are fully committed to maintaining all of our A&E services including those at Lewisham.”

The shortfall warning comes four years after local A&E services were threatened after the dissolution of the South London Healthcare NHS Trust. Lewisham A&E services and maternity services were reprieved by the High Court, who deemed the closure plans “unlawful”, after a sustained campaign by local residents and GP’s, backed by local MP Heidi Alexander.

England has since been divided into 44 ‘footprints’, with each area responsible for developing a Sustainability and Transformation Plan. The areas for South East London include Lewisham, Bexley, Bromley, Greenwich, Lambeth and Southwark.

Full story in East London Lines 10 November 2016