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UK Court of Appeal rules against Health Secretary

By Dawn Denmar     Oct 29, 2013 in Health
London - The UK Court of Appeal ruled on Monday that Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, did not have powers to instigate cuts at Lewisham Hospital in London.
This Court of Appeal ruling backs up the decision of a High Court judge last summer that the Health Secretary acted outside his powers when making the decision to cut the emergency and maternity units at Lewisham Hospital.
In July's High Court ruling, Mr Justice Silber had said Mr Hunt's decision was unlawful because he did not have power to do so and had breached the National Health Services Act 2006.
The Government appealed Mr Justice Silber's July finding, taking the matter to appeal. The three judges handling the case took just ten minutes to reject the Appeal.
The Labour Shadow Health Secretary, Andy Burnham, said this ruling was a "humiliation" for Mr Hunt and raised "major questions about his judgment".
He said: "Instead of graciously accepting the first court ruling, he has squandered thousands of [pounds of] taxpayers' money trying to protect his own pride and defend the indefensible.
"Today, the secretary of state must accept this decision, apologise unreservedly to the people of Lewisham and give an unequivocal commitment that their A&E will not now be downgraded."
The ward closures at Lewisham had been ordered following the appointment of a Trust Special Administrator at the South London Healthcare NHS Trust, which had been losing more than £1m every week. Although Lewisham Hospital did not fall under the orbit of South London Healthcare NHS Trust, the Administrator had recommended cuts to the unit.
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