Saturday, June 29, 2013

Save Lewisham Hospital: The People's Commission today

Save Lewisham Hospital is holding an event today at the Broadway Theatre. They're calling it a The People's Commission and it starts at 9.30am and runs all day till 5.30pm.

The day is chaired by Michael Mansfield QC. There will be other speakers during the day, or rather, witnesses (including GPs, clinicians, patients, nurses, and other local representatives) whose evidence will be heard by a team of barristers and the public. (See this page and scroll down). The aim of the day is to weigh up the evidence that was ignored during the government's sham consultation.

Mansfield is acting on behalf of Save Lewisham Hospital in their Judicial Review in the High Court (2-4 July), which has been funded by donations by Lewisham residents. This is a great coup for the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign – Mansfield's participated in and won many radical court cases against the powers-that-be, in the cause of Human Rights and Civil Liberties. Notably, he's defended the families of Stephen Lawrence and Jean Charles de Menezes, the Orgreave miners, those wrongly convicted in the IRA pub bombings in Guildford and Birmingham, Bloody Sunday, as well as the Al-Fayed investigation into the death of Dodi and Diana. His statement for the Lewisham Hospital campaign says:

“I together with the other panel judges are honoured to perform a much needed role for the people of Lewisham and all those beyond who depend upon the services of the NHS. Government policy over the last two decades has contributed to a major crisis in which viable and successful health resources are threatened with closure. The voice of the people has been marginalised in this process."

The event today starts the week in which the campaign goes to the High Court, a week now renamed as Justice for Lewisham Week 29 June–5 July. The Lewisham People's Commission will "examine the decision of the Secretary of State for Health to downgrade Lewisham Hospital and the context for this: the fundamental changes being made to the NHS over the last 40 years".

A particular question arising from this is the degree to which the recent moves to open the NHS to external market forces has been in any way openly debated (they haven't, nor were they part of a manifesto that was voted for).

The organisers have encouraged people to book a place at the event today (so they can get an idea of numbers to cater for), but it's obviously too late for that. It only costs 50p to get in, so it's probably not too late if you're in the area and want to put in your pennyworth and have your say. Otherwise you can follow on Twitter (@SaveLewishamAE and #Justice4Lewisham or Facebook. A live connection is promised also.

But if you can't make it today, be ready to check and support the real deal when the High Court case starts on Tuesday.

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