I’ve just been sent the letter that has been signed by all three MPs, the Mayor, Chair of Labour Group, and Len Duval, our GLA representative, about the A Picture of Health consultation being carried out by the NHS locally.
Our politicians say:
As your Labour elected representatives in Lewisham, we all agree that we have a responsibility to ensure that Lewisham residents continue to enjoy the best Health Care the NHS can provide.
Our starting point is simple. We all understand that the options set out in “A Picture of Health” would lead to changes in the services provided at University Hospital Lewisham (UHL) and in-patient maternity services, paediatrics and the Accident and Emergency department would be at risk.
We agree with the clinicians view outlined in the report that patients should be treated closer to their homes and that this should be coupled with developing hospital based homes services and urgent care centres as soon as possible.
However, we strongly disagree with the assumption that Lewisham belongs in Outer South East London an area “coined” by the “Picture of Health” consultation documents. This is a fundamental error and would be at odds with our residents’ sense of where they live.
We strongly assert that we are part of the inner South East quadrant of London and identify far more with our neighbouring boroughs Southwark and Lambeth. We think that our residents would identify far more with Kings and St Thomas’s when seeking out their health care needs and making their choices.
We will also argue for keeping an Accident and Emergency service in Lewisham capable of dealing with all cases except those requiring highly specialised care; the retention of the excellent regional paediatric unit and the retention of doctor led maternity care, while also seeking to improve safety for mothers and babies and addressing significant staff shortages in this area.
All residents who share our concerns about the future of Hospital services in Lewisham are encouraged to respond to this consultation by the 7th April.
My understanding is that all of the political parties represented on the council take a broadly similar view, but I’m happy to stand corrected should that not be the case.
Should you want to go an make your case to the NHS in person they are holding a drop in session on 28th February between 2pm and 8pm at Lewisham Methodist Church Hall on Albion Way, SE13 6BT.
I also know that the council’s Health Select Committee (working with their scrutiny colleagues across the consultation area) will be looking at the proposals as part of their statutory duty to examine significant changes to health provision.
Whether they will be calling for evidence isn’t clear from my attempts to find out what they’re doing through the council’s website – which seems to be temporarily out of action as I write.