Lewisham A&E downgraded

An A&E department and maternity services at a major hospital will be downgraded, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt told MPs, just days after more than 25,000 people protested against the plans.

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A&E closure could set 'dangerous precedent' for NHS

Jeremy Hunt is expected will make an announcement later today about the future of Lewisham Hospital's emergency department and maternity services.

The Health Secretary will make a statement on whether the south London hospital's emergency department should be replaced with an 'urgent care' ward and whether its maternity services into a midwife-led unit - proposals that have prompted demonstrations and petitions.

Protesters taking part in a demonstration against the possible closure of their local A&E and maternity services at Lewisham Hospital. Credit: John Stillwell/PA Wire/Press Association Images

The closures are part of a radical overhaul proposed by a special administrator in response to nearby South London Healthcare NHS Trust (SLHT) going into administration after it started losing around £1.3 million a week.

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham warns that if the proposals are implemented it could set a "dangerous precedent" for the rest of the NHS.

"If that were to be approved, I believe it would set a dangerous precedent to the NHS when the NHS is taking out A&E capacity on the basis of finance, not on care and quality, and that is a line over which the Government must not cross," he said.

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