The Health Secretary has had his decision to reduce services at a major hospital declared unlawful and quashed by the High Court. A judge ruled Jeremy Hunt acted outside his powers when he announced downgrade plans at Lewisham Hospital in London.
ITV News Correspondent Romilly Weeks reports:
A community had risen in massed opposition to his plans to cut services at their successful, highly-regarded hospital.
There was loud clapping in court at their "incredible" victory today as a judge ruled that Mr Hunt lacked power to downgrade casualty and maternity services at Lewisham Hospital in south east London.
The Health Secretary was attempting to deal with problems created by the financial collapse of neighbouring South London Healthcare NHS Trust , which went into administration after it started losing more than £1 million a week.
The ruling was a serious blow for Mr Hunt because the case involved the first legal testing of a new Government procedure for dealing with failing NHS organisations - referred to as the Unsustainable Providers Regime.
However the decision was greeted by campaigners.
Dr Louise Irvine, chair of the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign, said "this is an incredible day", after the High Court's ruling to quash a decision to reduce its services.
"We are delighted for every single person who has supported the campaign and those who will now continue to benefit from this extraordinary hospital", she added.
– STEVE TURNER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR UNITE
The decision to cut services at Lewisham Hospital was idiotic from the outset. But Jeremy Hunt chose his ideology over medical and community sense, which is why he has been slapped down by the court.
The judge exposed the Government as NHS vandals, with a Health Secretary prepared to flout its own rules to destroy a successful hospital.