Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Why Is Lewisham A&E under threat?

BFTF has been distrubed to read reports of proposals to downgrade the high-quality A&E department at Lewisham Hospital in South East London.

So far as BFTF can tell, this is being considered because the South London Healthcare NHS Trust (which runs the Queen Mary's (Sidcup), Queen Elizabeth (Woolwich) and Princess Royal (Orpington) is struggling to meet the PFI payments on the latter two hospitals.

Note that Lewisham Hospital is not part of this financially struggling group.

Politically, there is plenty of blame to spread around here, with PFI originally being championed by the previous Conservative administration, the specific Queen Elizabeth PFI contract being negotiated by the previous Labour administration, and with closure of the excellent Lewisham A&E being used as a sacrifical lamb by the present Conservative Liberal Democrat Coalition to save the struggling Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

Of course, while the political parties play their ideological games, and the private companies continue to reap the benefits of inflated or unnessesary PFI contracts, it is the ordinary citizens - particularly the economically disadvantaged people of Lewisham - who stand to pay the price.

Back in October 2012, Matthew Kershaw, the special administrator for the SE London Healthcare Trust was recommending that the Government should pay the "historic debts" of over £200 million and also pay some £25million extra per year to help pay for the millstone-like PFI deals negotiated by the previous Labour administration (BFTF does not know whether this recommendation has been implemented) and also that Lewisham A&E is being downgraded in status.

Cyncially, while the NHS is prevented from using surpluses in one area to subsidise deficits in another (a rule imposed by the previous Labour administration) it is a very different story when cuts are being considered - which is why the excellent, and financially sound, Lewisham A&E is under threat (from the present Conservative Liberal Democrat administration).

According to the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign, the reasons for the downgrading of Lewisham A&E are based on a deeply flawed interpretation of data and have not taken into account the very real difficulties that the residents of Lewisham will have in reaching the other hospitals in a timely manner, nor the very high qualiy of specialist care that Lewisham A&E provides, particularly for children.

You can read some of the examples of how data has been (willfully?) misinterpreted in this Word file.

BFTF is fearful that something similar could happen in Nottingham and has sent an email to the local Labour MP and to the local Conservative party saying that they should both be ashamed of the part their parties have played in the causing the present situation in Lewisham.

Related Content:
Campaigns to protect the NHS
Interview with Prof Ian Shaw on the NHS Bill
Report on a Broxtow Save the NHS meeting
Falsification of data at SERCO
Report on a talk on Financial Incentives for Healthcare
Challenging the BBC on their coverage of the NHS Bill
This is what is wrong with the NHS Bill

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