Today, the Special Administrator Matthew Kershaw's report to Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State, was released. In an emergency question in the Commons, Deptford's MP Joan Ruddock said the report must not be used to justify closing essential hospital services. “120,000 people use Lewisham A&E each year. Over 30,000 children use the Children’s A&E. Over 4000 babies are born in the hospital each year. There is no current capacity at any of the other hospitals in the area to provide for these patients.” She claimed the document was being used to force through a "major reconfiguration of services via the back door", echoing shadow health minister Andy Burnham's assertion that the Administrator's remit does not cover Lewisham.
Despite three months of so-called 'consultation' (in which 90% of the 8,000 who responded to the online form voted against the proposals for Lewisham) and overwhelming public outrage, the original proposals remain. Ironically, the Special Administrator hired to run South London Health Trust (not Lewisham Hospital) and reduce its £65m deficit, had to be granted an extra £1.1m by the government on top of the £4m agreed.
LibDem councillor Chris Maines uncovered the deficit through a Freedom of Information request. The Department of Health said £1m had already been paid to fund Mr Kershaw's office and a further £3.1m has gone on consultants, of which £2m has been paid to lead-contractor McKinsey with Deloitte and PA Consulting Group as sub-contractors (Deloitte charges £500 an hour just to write a letter).
Cllr Maines said “It is beyond belief that a person employed to find substantial savings could not demonstrate how to live within a generous budget himself...I am not surprised that the Management Consultants that profited hugely from the original PFI contracts are now profiting from the effect of those contracts." Read more here (LibDem's story) and here (Evening Standard).
Also see The Londonist's report on today's news. And Transpontine's post...
Save Lewisham Hospital are staging a protest outside Goldsmiths College this Thursday, 10 January 2013, where the first BBC TV Question Time of the new year is due to be filmed. The show, chaired by David Dimbleby, will be screened at 10.35pm. Panelists are unconfirmed (a list of panelists given to a local who has been given tickets is different to the panel listed on the BBC website). Join the protest from 5.30-9pm at Richard Hoggart Building, Goldsmith’s University, Lewisham Way, SE14 6NW (click on the notice below).
The next big demonstration Save Lewisham Hospital has called is on Saturday 26th January. Assemble at Lewisham Roundabout (by the station) at 12 noon. The march will go past the hospital to Mountsfield Park for a rally, music and a giant petition. Organisers need help with stewarding the demo, and with publicising the event over the next couple of weeks – see this page to find out how to get involved.
And if you haven't already, please sign the petition (top right of this page) and take it past 25,000.
See our report on Question Time on Thursday evening here.