Lewisham hospital will stay open - but only the lawyers have true cause to celebrate

The NHS's survival depends on the closure of services and even whole hospitals


Related Topics

There may be egg on Jeremy Hunt's face, after today's High Court decision to reprieve Lewisham hospital, but it is the lawyers who are riding the gravy train.

Once again efforts to reorganise the NHS to make it more efficient and affordable have been derailed by the legal process, sackloads of cash have been diverted from patient care to lawyers pockets and the urgent task of healthcare reform has taken another step backwards.

Last month Mr Hunt suspended necessary but controversial plans to reform the provision of children's heart surgery, reducing the number of hospitals providing it from 10 to seven, after "flaws" were identified in the process. Now the urgent need to address longstanding problems with the health service in south London, which is effectively bust, have also been put on ice.

Lewisham's supporters are rightly celebrating. The proposal to downgrade the  A&E and maternity departments at the borough's popular and successful hospital  were seen as deeply unfair, and triggered a grassroots backlash with 15,000 local residents marching in protest. Their anger was fuelled by the fact that it was the neighbouring South London NHS Trust that was in difficulty, racking up debts at the rate of £1.3 million a week, but it was Lewisham that was being made to pay for it.

The Special Administrator called in to sort out the South London Trust had concluded that the only way to save it from bankruptcy was to curb services at its neighbour (Lewisham) and drive more patients in its direction. But the High Court ruled that the administrator had exceeded his powers by making recommendations about a separate trust, which would require a separate process of consultation, and Mr Hunt had compounded the error by following them. Back to square one.

Among the many responses welcoming Lewisham's reprieve today, the one from the NHS Confederation, representing managers, is the most instructive.

Mike Farrar, its experienced chief executive, said: "We should remember that the original intention shared by all organisations was to find a way to create sustainable high quality care that was affordable. This remains the underlying issue that has to be solved and one which cannot be ignored.".

Only last month NHS managers and medical Royal Colleges joined forces to demand a radical re-think of the way the NHS approaches the reconfiguration of services in order to overcome its “paralysis in relation to change”.

Today that paralysis continues. The closure of services, units and in some cases whole hospitals is essential to concentrate expertise, raise standards and achieve economies of scale in those that remain. The survival of the NHS depends upon it.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Read Next

General Election 2015: The SNP and an SMC (Salmond-Murdoch Conspiracy)

Matthew Norman
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station  

General Election 2015: Despite all the seeming cynicism, our political system works

Ian Birrell
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk