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My right hon. and learned friend encapsulates the issues in relation to King’s College hospital perfectly.
The fact of the matter is that millions of pounds will have to be spent at neighbouring hospitals to enable them to do the job that doctors and nurses at Lewisham hospital are already doing very well. Roughly £200 million has to be spent on making those changes happen, and that is not to mention the £12 million that has just been spent on Lewisham hospital’s A and E department.
In my view, this process is sheer madness. I do not think that there is any guarantee that money will be spent in the right places. If the predictions about where people will go after the closure of the A and E department and maternity department at Lewisham hospital are not right, we will end up spending money on the wrong hospitals. That could result in complete chaos. I cannot see the sense in the proposal, and neither can thousands upon thousands of people in south-east London.
The proposed closure of Lewisham’s A and E department and maternity department would also mean that two thirds of the building and land at Lewisham hospital would be sold off. These plans were hidden in an appendix to the initial proposals document, which was first published at the end of October last year.
I cannot overstate the opposition to these plans. More than 40,000 people have signed a petition against the closures; not one Lewisham GP is in favour of the changes; and the chair of the local commissioning group is also opposed to them. Put simply, these changes are unwanted.