It was a very special day for the Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign and Lewisham Council last week when they jointly celebrated the ten-year anniversary of their victory at the High Court in 2013 to save Lewisham Hospital.
The Council and the Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign have donated a newly engraved community bench which was unveiled. One of the Lewisham Council refuse vehicles was decorated to celebrate both this ten-year anniversary and NHS 75. Lewisham Hospital very kindly gave the use of their beautiful Wellbeing Garden to make sure that even heavy rain didn’t dampen any spirits at the event. The community came together for speeches, music and lots of cake to celebrate this significant achievement.
Dr Louise Irvine, Chair of the Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign unveiled the new community bench with former Lewisham Mayor, Sir Steve Bullock and there were speeches from Councillor Paul Bell, Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care, Vicky Foxcroft MP for Lewisham Deptford and many campaigners, NHS staff and patients.
Since saving Lewisham Hospital:
- Over 33,000 babies have been born at the hospital
- More than 1.1 million people have used A&E
- Nearly 5,000 patients were treated for COVID-19
Ten years ago, the community united in a huge community campaign to save Lewisham Hospital. It was a remarkable journey that many people in the borough took part in to save vital NHS services. Patients, NHS staff, Lewisham Council, MPs, schools, pensioners, families, businesses, faith groups, charities, unions, students and health campaigners worked together. The Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign worked tirelessly. From primary school dressing up days to pub quiz nights, from collections in buckets at Lewisham Market to the support of Millwall FC, the whole community quickly rallied across the borough to fundraise.
There were two huge demonstrations in Lewisham of more than 25,000 people and so much activity – from the ‘Buggy Army’ of parents and babies at the Department of Health (DoH) to the Pensioners’ Forum trolley march and the campaign single from Lewisham rapper Question Musiq. There was an innovative People’s Commission of Inquiry chaired by Michael Mansfield QC. Posters were in thousands of home and shop windows and there was extensive national TV and press coverage throughout the year.
The Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign and Lewisham Council challenged the government with Judicial Reviews. On 31 July 2013, the High Court ruled in favour of the Judicial Reviews and quashed the Government’s closure plans. After the most extraordinary year of campaigning across our whole community, Lewisham Hospital was saved and ten years on we celebrated this and the 75th birthday of the NHS.
Dr Louise Irvine, Chair of Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign:
“Thousands of people in Lewisham united in our vibrant campaign. The amazing victory we had was due to the people of Lewisham and our campaign’s determination, commitment and creativity.”
Dr Chidi Ejimofo, Consultant in Emergency Medicine, Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust:
“I am proud of our community for rallying so magnificently to save our vital A&E and maternity services. Ten years on, we continue to serve the residents of Lewisham and beyond.”
Cllr Paul Bell, Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care:
“We celebrate this significant achievement in Lewisham and thank our wonderful NHS staff who face increasing and relentless pressures on health services. This year is the 75th anniversary of the NHS and we must defend it for us all now and for the generations to come.”
Sir Steve Bullock, former Mayor of Lewisham:
“Justice was delivered for Lewisham – where would we have been during the Covid pandemic had we lost our hospital? This has been the most significant and successful community campaign that I have experienced in my political career.”
TIMELINE OF THE SAVE LEWISHAM HOSPITAL CAMPAIGN
• A&E and Maternity closures at Lewisham were proposed
• The Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign was formed
• Petition launched by Lewisham East MP Heidi Alexander
• Street stalls set up and weekly campaign meetings began
• First community demonstration of 15,000 people
• Archbishop Desmond Tutu wrote a letter of support
• BBC Question Time in Lewisham
• First Buggy Army at the DoH
• 25,000 people marched
• Jeremy Hunt announces the closure of services at Lewisham
• Valentine’s Day protest at the DoH
• Mayor of London Question Time at the Broadway Theatre
• Lewisham Pensioners’ Forum march
• Fundraising events for the Judicial Review
• Lewisham People’s Commission of Inquiry
• The Judicial Reviews were successful and Lewisham Hospital was saved!
• The Court of Appeal ruled that the Government had acted unlawfully
Photo credit 2023 celebration: Tariq Choudry.