Published on January 29, 2013 | by Vanessa Smart0
Protestors’ SOS call for Lewisham HospitalThousands of people have marched through Lewisham in protest against plans to close emergency and maternity services in the heavily student-populated borough.
The demonstration on January 26 was organised by the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign group, which says the turnout was larger than expected with up to 25,000 marchers.
Shelly Asquith, 22, a BA Criticism Communication and Curation: Arts and Design student at Central Saint Martins College attended the march.
Speaking to Arts London News she said: “The march had fantastic energy. Cars beeped their support and local shops shut altogether posting signs up saying ‘closed – on the demo’. It was a true community effort.”
Asquith hopes the government will react to the public outcry. She said: “The government is now under huge pressure to scrap the proposed closure which would affect 750,000 people and lose an entire borough an A&E and maternity unit.”
“My mum has been disabled for over ten years. Now they are saying our closest A&E would be Woolwich, which is an absolute joke.” LCC graduate Kara-Jessica Mallett
Under the proposals, the hospital’s A&E unit will close and the maternity unit will be downgraded after the neighbouring South London Healthcare NHS Trust ran up debts of £150m.
A spokesperson for Lewisham Healthcare NHS Trust said: “We have been overwhelmed by the support from patients, GPs, MPs, partners and local people from across London and beyond.
“We do not agree with the Trust Special Administrator’s proposals to close vital emergency and maternity services at Lewisham.”
London College of Communication graduate and Lewisham resident Kara-Jessica Mallett, 20, expressed her concerns for the plans to close the A&E ward.
Speaking to Arts London News she said: “My mum has been disabled for over ten years now and suffers from a lot of physical problems.
“We thought we were lucky having the hospital down the road from us, but now they are saying our closest A&E would be Woolwich, which is an absolute joke.”
Under the new plans, Lewisham Healthcare NHS Trust may come together with the Queen Elizabeth Hospital site in Woolwich to create a new organisation.
The government will make its decision on the trust and the hospital by February 1.