Saturday, January 12, 2013

Lewisham Hospital on Question Time

If you missed the programme, you can view it for another year on iPlayer here. The debate on Lewisham Hospital takes up much of the last third of the programme.

A small but lively (and very noisy) protest took place outside Goldsmiths' main building on Thursday whilst the BBC Question Time audience were being rehearsed just inside in the main hall. The protest was filmed by the Beeb and could be heard inside, inspiring the campaigners who were part of the audience to lobby the panel before the show began.

This resulted in some of the panel speaking in support of saving the hospital when the question came up. Though it is doubtful how much influence she has, disgraced MP Nadine Dorries promised to arrange for the campaigners to meet Jeremy Hunt, even though he has so far refused to meet Heidi Alexander and others who have repeatedly requested meetings with him.

The producers had previously told us the subject was too local to be of interest, but news that day of more proposed closures, plus the protest outside, and a wonderfully simple question from local Kate Hennessy that linked our local issue to the larger national one ("David Cameron claimed the NHS was safe in his hands...given the cuts and closures around the country is this still the case?") meant it got a full airing.

Dorries took the opportunity to blame Labour for the terrible PFI deals it struck, and John Prescott blithered and blathered at Ed Davey, whilst Dimbleby pinned Davey down on statements he made that he had obviously not been briefed on.

Davey's statements caused an elderly campaigner, perhaps a doctor herself, to point out how the views of clinicians, GPs and the community had been "deliberately ignored" in the consultation. She revealed that the plan for Lewisham Hospital "was hidden away in an annex to an appendix in the draft report", details of which were not included in the consultation document. It revealed that "every single entrance to the hospital was going to be sold off and our brand new A&E, maternity care and urgent care centre were all part of the land that was going to be sold off".

A Lewisham hospital paediatrician said "The coalition government broke its pledge not to introduce any top-down change by introducing the biggest top-down ever, the Health & Social Care Bill. It's the biggest ever change introduced in the NHS...the Coalition is pushing on more than £20 billion pounds worth of savings over the next three years. NHS funding is about £85billion. That gives you some perspective about it. A safe hospital, locally, is about to close. Now make a judgement. Is the NHS safe with this coalition Government?"

Camilla Cavendish suggested Kershaw's proposals "rewarded bad management", and that Hunt should consider Lewisham Hospital Trust's proposal to take over the management of the failing Woolwich hospital. John Bird voiced the suspicion of many that the plans were "gerrymandering" since a Labour borough was going to be hit, whilst other areas more likely to vote Conservative will be saved (although QEH is in Greenwich, a Labour borough)...

Since Nadine Dorries had promised to call Jeremy Hunt "tomorrow" then admitted she would be busy in her constituency so would have to text him instead, the debate drew to a close with an audience member pinning Nadine Dorries down to her promise of help, by asking her to set up a meeting for them.

Dimbleby suggested they all meet after the programme, whilst Prescott reminded us that some people don't have any difficulty getting meetings with Jeremy Hunt. "Murdoch had no problem," he grumbled in a parting shot, intent on reminding us what sort of errors of judgement the person who holds the fate of our local hospital in his hands has made in the past.

Also see Transpontine for a further report of this evening.

The campaign to save Lewisham Hospital is also asking that you let the Secretary of State know what you think by sending your views directly to him.

Email Jeremy Hunt at or write to him at Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, Secretary of State for Health, Department for Health, Richmond House, 79 Whitehall, London SW1A 2NS.

See our previous report on the Special Administrator's overspending here.

1 comment:

  1. Ha ha like how you've picked out the stills to mark key moments.

    Was rather disappointed in the panel selection though. Was that the best they could get?

    Best guest might have been John Bird if he'd been given a question on housing and homelessness which is surely a question that means a lot to this area with so many needing housing.

    It's a horrible programme really but I'm glad it served its purpose on Thursday. Congratulations to the brave speakers in the audience!