Last night Jeremy Hunt lodged an eleventh hour appeal against the High Court judgement that quashed his plans to downgrade services at Lewisham Hospital.
In a disappointing move, the Secretary of State will attempt to overturn Justice Silber’s ruling that he and his Trust Special Administrator (TSA) had acted unlawfully by including Lewisham Hospital in the plans to eradicate the gaping deficit at South Lewisham Healthcare Trust.
If the appeal is successful, no hospital, no matter how successful will be safe from closure in order to top up the finances at a financially-stricken neighbouring Trust - as covered in depth in OurNHS yesterday. But Rosa Curling from law firm Leigh Day, who represented the Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign during the judicial review said:
“We remain confident that the Court of Appeal will uphold Mr Justice Silber's decision and we intend to request an urgent hearing so the ongoing uncertainty facing the Hospital can be brought to an end as a matter of priority."
On behalf of the Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign, Tony O’Sullivan expressed disappointment at the Secretary of State’s decision to appeal, but reiterated the Campaign’s confidence that the strength of their case will be upheld at appeal. “Our commitment to defend the excellent services provided by Lewisham Hospital is unwavering,” he said.
However campaigners are outraged at this further waste of the taxpayer’s money. Already a petition calling for Hunt to accept the High Court decision has gained more than 16,000 signatures.
The consultation required for the disputed TSA process had cost over £5 million by January 2013, before legal proceedings against Hunt had even begun. The total cost of consultation and legal defense of the TSA process is likely to be significantly more by now. To appeal is to waste yet more money on a Government campaign that has neither the support of the public nor the law.