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article imageThe Administrator's non-response to saving Lewisham Hospital A&E Special

By Alexander Baron     Dec 7, 2012 in Health
Lewisham - The powers-that-be have appointed a special administrator to oversee the plunder of health services in Lewisham. He isn't very talkative.
You can always tell when a public body or government minister is being honest with you - they are transparently so. Nobody trusts the police anymore, for good reasons. The death of Ian Tomlinson is just one of many.
A lot of people believed and probably still believe that convicted murderess Linda Carty is innocent, but when a film-maker from the UK flew to Texas to see for himself, he received full cooperation from Houston Police, they showed him videos and everything.
The proposed closure of the accident & emergency department at Lewisham Hospital does not involve a murder, but it could result in the deaths of innocent people. What if it were closed and another train crash were to happen at Lewisham of the same magnitude as the 1957 crash?
The Government has appointed what it calls a Trust Special Administrator to sort out the problems the Government created in the first place - albeit the previous, Labour one. The solution to these problems he has proposed is to swing an axe. What else in the age of austerity?
This is not being done without consulting the public, but this so-called consultation is a bit like that old joke: Those in favour - 2; those against - 10. Carried unanimously.
That may indeed be the case at the end of the day, but Iain Wilson of the campaign to save Lewisham A&E is determined not to go down without a fight. I spoke to him early last month. I also spoke to the TSA, or its press office, but this conversation was all one way traffic.
I contacted them on November 14 with the simple message:
Can you answer a few questions re this and the debts of the trust for a member of the press, on record?
I received a response on November 16:
Thank you for your email enquiry. Your email has been passed on to a media representative of the team and you will be contacted shorly to answer any questions you may have.
(Sent on behalf of the Office of the Trust Special Administrator)
Securing Sustainable NHS Services
Freephone: 0800 953 0110
Follow us on Twitter: @OfficeTSA
When nothing materialised, I contacted them again, then phoned them and spoke to Audrey Cousins, who said someone would get back to me. I sent her my list of questions - again. No answer. I tried again, then phoned. I was told by "Josh" that the answers to my questions were being prepared. I was told this twice. I phoned for the final time early this week, and was told I would receive a response by Wednesday - having been told last Friday afternoon I could expect them within 24 hours regardless of the weekend.
I gave them a day's grace, it is now Friday afternoon, and still no response.
This morning I e-mailed Iain Wilson at 10.17 with the same questions and some more. I received a response NINE MINUTES LATER. What does that tell you?
Below are the questions I sent to the TSA's press office, and below that are are my questions to Iain Wilson and his response:
I picked up your pamphlet "Securing sustainable NHS services" and have a few questions.
On page 3 it says "In the three years since its formation, South London Healthcare NHS Trust generated a total debt of £153 million"
Can I ask specifically, to whom is this debt owed? There appears to be no breakdown.
How much of this debt is for capital expenditure?
How much of it is for things like consultancy fees?
And most importantly, how much of it is for interest charges, to banks or elsewhere?
What is the total budget of the Trust and from whence does this money come?
On page 23, it is recommended that the Department of Health should write off debts owed by the Trust to the total of £207 million.
As this is essentially an internal government auditing, it should be fairly straightforward.
As stated, all the above questions were unanswered (read ignored). Now here is the response of a man who genuinely cares about health services in Lewisham and elsewhere.
AB: Hello again, I've been in touch with the TSA's press office for over a week, and frankly they're taking the p***. I've attached the questions I asked them. Would you like to comment? How many did you get for your meeting?
IW: I'm in a hurry, so bear with me for being brief. We got eight thousand according to a policeman at the entrance to the park; fifteen thousand according to traffic control.
AB: What sort of response have you had from other professionals in the emergency field, the police and especially the fire service?
IW: Responses can be found here:
I haven't heard from fire/emergency services...We haven't really gone soliciting people's feedback, they've volunteered it. If you find out that a service has written a good response to oppose the plans, ask them to forward it us.
AB: Briefly, what is your alternative plan, or do you think things should stay as they are?
IW: We haven't finalised our alternative. Largely, we disagree with the premise that government should no longer release adequate funds for essential healthcare services in South East London.
AB: What sort of a reception did the Administrator Matthew Kershaw get on December 4?
IW: An article about Kershaw's reception can be found here. He needed police escorts in and out of the building.
AB: Why do you think the TSA were reluctant or unable to answer my questions?
I don't know why his office haven't replied. They don't seem to give a s**t about most things. Future plans are still being made...expect a London-wide demonstration or simultaneous demonstrations in the New Year, given what is happening in West London.
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