A dodgy finance scheme used by a Woolwich hospital could cause the closure of Lewisham’s Accident & Emergency Department.
The Private Finance Initiative (PFI) was strongly supported by the last Labour Government, when hospitals were encouraged to sign risky contracts with private funders. Under Labour, Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich signed a PFI contract that is now causing the hospital to lose millions of pounds every month.
As a result it is now being proposed that Queen Elizabeth becomes the main A&E for the Lewisham area as well, to help raise more money for the debt-ridden hospital in Woolwich.
A ‘Special Administrator’ appointed by the Government has proposed closing Lewisham’s A&E and other departments to help restore Queen Elizabeth Hospital to financial health.
Lewisham’s Liberal Democrats have reacted angrily to the proposals, saying Lewisham residents should not have to suffer for mistakes made by a Woolwich Hospital. Leader of Lewisham’s Lib Dems, Councillor Chris Maines, has also called for the PFI contract to be re-negotiated, something the Special Administrator failed to consider.
Councillor Maines commented, “The solution to stem the £1 million per week debt is to re-negotiate the PFI contract. The Special Administrator, Matthew Kershaw, has failed to consider this in his recommendations, even though it could resolve the problem without closing Lewisham’s A&E Department. His list of closures and downgrades fails to deal with the real problem, which is PFI.”
“Labour told us that PFI was good for hospitals and claimed the private sector would take on any financial risk. This was always a myth. In reality it’s the NHS that has to take on the risk and patients that suffer when PFI contracts siphon off the money.”
“We call on the Special Administrator to look seriously at re-negotiating the South London Healthcare’s PFI contract as a way of dealing with this mess.”
Lewisham Lib Dems are urging local residents to sign the petition to save Lewisham A&E