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Victory for people of Lewisham as Government appeal dismissed

Court of Appeal upholds decision that Government acted unlawfully when downgrading and closing services at Lewisham Hospital

Lewisham Hospital

29 October 2013

 Lawyers for the Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign have said they are ‘delighted’ after an appeal brought against a High Court judge's ruling by the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt was dismissed today.

Three Court of Appeal judges agreed with Mr Justice Silber’s July judgment that Mr Hunt's move to downgrade A&E and maternity services at Lewisham Hospital was "unlawful" as the Health Secretary does not have the power to implement cuts at the successful Lewisham Hospital in south east London.

The decision was announced on the second day of a hearing in London.

Rosa Curling from law firm Leigh Day, who represented the Save Lewisham Hospital Group said:

"We are absolutely delighted with the Court of Appeal's decision today. It confirms what the Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign has been arguing from the start - that the Secretary of State did not have the legal power to close and downgrade services at Lewisham Hospital.

"This expensive waste of time for the Government should serve as a wake up call that they cannot ride roughshod over the needs of the people.

"The decision to dismiss the appeal also reaffirms the need for judicial review, a legal process by which the unlawful decisions of public bodies, including the Government, can be challenged by the public.

“The Government's current consultation on the judicial review process is in direct response to these types of cases where it has acted unlawfully but does not want to be challenged by those who put them in power."

Vicky Penner a former patient at Lewisham Hospital and a member of the Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign said: “The judgment made by the High Court in July was very clear that the Health Secretary had acted unlawfully. This appeal has been a disgraceful waste of taxpayer’s money.

“The Government's attempt to rush through an amendment to the Care Bill through Parliament which would give Trust Special Administrators, and in turn the Government, unlimited geographical power without proper consultation means that no hospital in the country will be safe.

“It seems that if the Government cannot win in Court, they will bully their plans through Parliament, showing their utter contempt for normal people and democracy.”

David Babbs, Executive Director at 38 Degrees, the campaign group who supported the legal challenge to the Government’s proposed cuts, said:

"Once again ordinary people have taken the government to court and won. The fact that so many 38 Degrees members donated from across the country to help make these victories possible shows how important this is and the lengths we'll go to protect our NHS from Jeremy Hunt"

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