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Judge rules as unlawful government plans to downgrade services at Lewisham hospital

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f4884 (Published 01 August 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f4884
  1. Gareth Iacobucci
  1. 1BMJ

England’s health secretary Jeremy Hunt acted unlawfully in announcing plans to downgrade services at Lewisham Hospital in south east London, a High Court judge has ruled.

Mr Justice Silber said that Hunt’s decision to downgrade the hospital’s accident and emergency and maternity units must be quashed because he acted outside his powers as secretary of state, and in breach of the National Health Service Act 2006.

The judge also ruled that the decision of the government appointed trust special administrator, Matthew Kershaw, to recommend the action in October last year1 was unlawful.

In January this year, the health secretary announced that he had accepted the administrator’s recommendations that a planned reconfiguration of financially stricken South London Healthcare NHS Trust should include reconfiguring NHS services across all of south east London, including neighbouring Lewisham.

Hunt announced that the emergency unit at Lewisham Hospital would not remain in its present state, and would be downgraded while still retaining …

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