The arguments for cuts at Lewisham Hospital don’t stack up

25th January, 2013 4:08 pm

This weekend I will join thousands of people to march against the proposed closure of the Accident & Emergency and Maternity Unit at Lewisham Hospital.  Lewisham’s Labour MPs and Labour Mayor have supported local campaigners and worried residents to try and persuade the government to change course on this disastrous proposal.

The reasons given for closing these two vital services do not stack up.  The proposal to close the hospital’s successful A&E and maternity unit is for short-term financial reasons alone.  The consultation does not take into account the longer term impact closure would have on a large area of South London, including Lambeth and Southwark.  Lewisham contains some of the most deprived communities in London and it is vital that they have access to high quality NHS services.

Between 2001 and 2010, the population of Lewisham grew by 15,700, or 6.2%. Lewisham is the 15th most ethnically diverse borough in England with 2 out of every 5 resident coming from a black and minority ethnic background.  As a South London borough, similar to Lambeth where I’m a councillor, it is no surprise that the largest BME groups are Black African and Black Caribbean – together these two groups comprise around 30% of the total population of Lewisham.

The catchment area of Lewisham Hospital has a high population of sickle cell patients who require outpatient treatment and A&E support to help treat this disease which affects people of African heritage.  The Lewisham PCT Public Health report estimates that this 30% of the Lewisham Population (79,468 people) have a higher rate of sickle cell disease at birth than in any other area in the UK (GLA Round Ethnic Group Population Projections). Lewisham Hospital currently has a specialist Clinical Nurse Specialist who monitors both ward and A&E attendance of the Sickle Cell Patients, helping the patients and their families to plan any additional care, referrals or hospital admissions.

The recommendations as proposed by the Trust Special Administrator appointed to lead the review states that there will be a 15% drop in outpatient activity if the proposed closure of the A&E and maternity unit go ahead.  The official reply to the consultation by leading Emergency Department Consultations slams these figures and states:

the draft report is based on demonstrably incorrect figures and assumptions, its findings cannot be relied upon”

Why am I interested in how Sickle Cell patients will be effected if the A&E and Maternity Unit close at Lewisham Hospital? Because my mother suffers from Sickle Cell Anaemia and I have acted as her carer for most of my life.

Trying to explain the disease to people can sometimes be difficult.  There is still not enough awareness about the disease outside the BME community.  I recall when my mother was suddenly taken ill when we were out shopping in the West End. She was suffering from intense pain and my sisters and I were trying to explain to the staff that she needed urgent hospital treatment and for them to call an ambulance. They didn’t understand when we tried to explain that she was having a ‘crisis’ because as far as they were concerned, she didn’t show any visible signs of bleeding or injury.

I also remember the summer of 1997 after my GCSEs when my mother fell ill and suffered a crisis whilst we were visiting my aunt in Lewisham.  The care and support she received from the A&E department was second to none; the doctors had a full understanding of the disease and treatment that my mother needed.

The data from the Lewisham PCT Public Health report highlights the fact that there are more admissions from women sufferers of Sickle Cell, so women will be disproportionately affected by any proposals to close the A&E department. Kings College Hospital have a team of dedicated staff who care for Sickle Cell patients, but they will be stretched beyond the limit in dealing with additional patients from Lewisham if this closure goes ahead as planned.

I urge everybody from the BME community as well as others to join the campaign to save this vital service.  The chances are you will know somebody who suffers from Sickle Cell and so it is important that we raise awareness about what’s happening.  The proposals will not only affect Lewisham residents, but a wide catchment area across South London. We have to campaign together to send a message to the Government not to dismantle vital NHS services for some of the most deprived communities in our country.

Florence Nosegbe is a Councillor in Brixton Hill Ward Councillor, Lambeth 

  • Renie Anjeh

    Brilliant article, couldn’t agree more!


  • Featured News Jeremy Corbyn: “Tory conference was a feast of spin and deception”

    Jeremy Corbyn: “Tory conference was a feast of spin and deception”

    The Conservative Conference in Manchester proved that the party were still “the same old Tories”, according to Jeremy Corbyn. During a speech in Glasgow tonight, where he will also set out his support for “decent” businesses who support their employees, Corbyn will call out the Tories’ “fake claims to support equality” and say that ministers’ speeches “let the mask slip” to reveal the party’s true colours. He will also say that David Cameron’s “crude personal attacks” on Corbyn show that […]

    Read more →
  • News Sadiq edges ahead in close early London Mayor poll

    Sadiq edges ahead in close early London Mayor poll

    Sadiq Khan is ahead of Zac Goldsmith by 51% to 49% in the first YouGov poll for the Evening Standard since both were confirmed as their party’s candidates. It is also the first time that Khan has been ahead of Goldsmith in a head-to-head polled by YouGov (other pollsters have shown him with leads previously). A Khan/Goldsmith run-off in June revealed a tie, while Goldsmith edged it in July and August polling – suggesting that early momentum may have shifted […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News Corbyn to set out pro-“decent business” agenda in Glasgow speech

    Corbyn to set out pro-“decent business” agenda in Glasgow speech

    Jeremy Corbyn will tonight praise ethical and responsible businesses, in a speech at a Scottish Labour fundraiser in Glasgow. He will praise employers who “respect their workers” and “don’t lock out trade unions”. It is one of the first signs of what a Labour pro-business agenda under Corbyn might looks like, as he outlines the kind of business practice he thinks the party “should celebrate”. He will also criticise the fallout from 2008’s financial crisis, which he says was caused […]

    Read more →
  • News Tristram Hunt warns that social media creates “narrow online world” for activists

    Tristram Hunt warns that social media creates “narrow online world” for activists

    Social media is skewering how we perceive politics, according to Labour MP Tristram Hunt. In a speech at the University of Sheffield last night, Hunt said that Labour needed to deal with three aspects of a changed political landscape: “populism and social media; a ruptured political economy; and new identities of patriotism”. He identified the ‘filter bubble’ as a problem – whereby search engines and social media sites record information about a user to deliver content they will like, but […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News Corbyn will boost Labour’s chances in Scotland, say LabourList readers

    Corbyn will boost Labour’s chances in Scotland, say LabourList readers

    LabourList readers overwhelmingly believe that Jeremy Corbyn will improve Scottish Labour’s chances in the Holyrood elections next month. A latest poll in Scotland gives the SNP a 35 point lead over Labour, but many believe that a more left wing Labour will begin to turn their fortunes around – 70% of people who took our survey this week think Corbyn will make things better by this May. Given the dire straits Scottish Labour find themselves in, and the size of […]

    Read more →
Share with your friends