I went to Lewisham Hospital at the start of my fertility investigations. It’s a local hospital, serving the local community and has been performing so well that it has been listed as one of the top forty hospitals in the country in recent months. Unfortunately, being a successful hospital hasn’t prevented a proposal being made to shut the hospital’s new A and E department along with the maternity and intensive care units and children’s services.
The idea is that instead of going to a good, local hospital, people living in the area will have to travel for up to an hour to reach a not very good, not very local hospital. I once had the misfortune to attend A and E in the not very good hospital we are now expected to travel to. The staff at the reception desk were rude and unhelpful, I waited for four hours and didn’t ever get seen by a doctor. It wasn’t an experience I’d want to repeat.
The reason for closing Lewisham is because the not so good hospital is crippled by huge debts. So you close down the high-performing, good hospital and make everyone go to the debt-ridden not-so-good one instead… Logical, heh?
I know that budgets mean that savings must be made in the NHS – and that some rationalisation is necessary – but I’ve yet to hear a coherent answer as to how this is a rational decision. Centralising may make sense for some services, but whoever came up with the idea of centralised A and E? Surely the whole point is that you need to be able to get to an A and E department quickly in an emergency? Maybe the real hope is that more people will expire before they ever get to the hospital? Closing Lewisham’s A and E is the kind of lunacy you get when you have decisions made by people who have little understanding of the local area – or the needs of local people – and who can’t think beyond their calculators.
So, if you’re in South East London, come on the march on Saturday and support the campaign to Save Lewisham Hospital – more details at www.savelewishamhospital.com