Today’s High Court ruling quashing Jeremy Hunt’s decision to close A&E and maternity services at Lewisham Hospital is a victory for common sense and NHS campaigners up and down the country, says Unite, the country's biggest union and a staunch supporter of the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign.
The judge ruled that the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, had exceeded his powers in trying to reduce services at the hospital.
Welcoming the decision to quash the cuts to Lewisham, following an eight month campaign by the Save Lewisham Hospital campaigners, Unite says that Jeremy Hunt must accept the decision of the judiciary, medical professionals and the local community and let this hospital thrive.
Unite said that in failing to gain the support of local GP commissioners - one of the government’s own essential criteria for hospital department closures - Hunt had failed his own test and must now accept defeat.
Steve Turner, Unite executive director of policy, said: “The decision to cut services at Lewisham hospital was idiotic from the outset. But Jeremy Hunt chose his ideology over medical and community sense which is why he has been slapped down by the court today.
"The judge today has exposed the government as NHS vandals, with a health secretary prepared to flout its own rules to destroy a successful hospital.
“Jeremy Hunt has been told loudly and clearly - you acted unlawfully and outside your powers. He was told this long ago but would not listen. It is a testament to the medical professionals and the people of Lewisham that they fought the health secretary all the way to save their services. He must now accept this ruling and set aside any notion that he will come back to court determined to destroy Lewisham hospital.
"If there are concerns in the south London cluster of hospitals, then these need to be addressed by tackling the appalling PFI debts crippling these services. Downgrading Lewisham hospital is not the answer. The answer is to address the handcuff contracts choking the life out of the NHS.”
For further information please contact Unite campaigns officer Chantal Chegrinec on 07774 146777.
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.