Harriet Harman

Parliament has been dissolved until after the General Election and I am no longer an MP

Opposing Lewisham’s A&E and maternity closure on behalf of patie

The closure of Lewisham's A&E and maternity services would have a major impact on services at King's College Hospital, new figures reveal.  Today I joined other South East London MPs in writting to Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt MP, voicing my total opposition to Lewisham's A&E and maternity closure.  The text of our letter is below.

Dear Jeremy,

Opposition to closure of Lewisham’s Accident & Emergency (A&E) and maternity services on behalf of patients at King’s College Hospital (King’s)

Thank you for meeting with us and other South London MPs on Monday 14th January.   We had not hitherto been given clear figures about the impact of the proposed closure of Lewisham’s Accident & Emergency (A&E) and maternity services on patients of King’s College Hospital (King’s).  But hearing the discussion at the meeting and with the emergence of further estimates of what will happen following the closure of University Hospital Lewisham’s (Lewisham) A&E and maternity services, it is now evident to us that closure would be very bad for King’s - all the patients who use it and the staff who work in it.


Accident & Emergency

It is now acknowledged that most of the patients who would otherwise have used Lewisham A&E will come to King’s.  This will have a major impact on the service provided in King’s A&E.  It simply will not be possible to maintain the high standard of service which King’s seeks to provide in A&E, and in particular in paediatric A&E. 


We estimate the following, based on NHS figures: 54% of patients - or 65,000 people - who would otherwise have gone to Lewisham will come to King’s A&E - that is an increase of almost 45% for King’s A&E.  As it is, there is a small but concerning increase in waiting times at King’s A&E.  If Lewisham A&E closes it is inconceivable that King’s would be able to maintain what is a much improved service for our constituents.


Pressure on inpatient services

Of those 65,000 extra A&E patients approximately 12,200 will be likely to be admitted to King’s as emergencies - that is an almost 45% increase in emergency admissions at King’s.


That will place a further pressure on inpatient beds at a time when King’s management have raised with us their concerns about capacity at King’s.  They say they are already looking to take on extra capacity at Princess Royal in Bromley to deal with outpatients and non-emergency admissions.  To accommodate the additional emergency admissions even more non-emergency admissions will have to be moved out of King’s to Princess Royal University Hospital in Bromley. 


For our constituents - many of whom do not own a car - the journey from Camberwell to Princess Royal in Bromley would mean a journey of at least a bus and a train lasting more than one hour and costing £5.50.


Maternity services

We estimate that if Lewisham maternity services close then there will be 3,235 more births at King’s to add to the existing 6,000 births, an increase of 54% of births at King’s.  There is simply not the capacity at King’s for a 54% increase in births.   It would not be fair on the mothers, the babies or the staff.  There are already mothers who want to give birth at King’s who have to go elsewhere - some are referred to Lewisham.  


Our total opposition to Lewisham A&E and maternity closures

So we want to make clear that we are totally opposed to the Lewisham A&E and maternity closures and would be grateful if you would place proper weight on the representations of us as "Kings MPs" on behalf of our constituents.


And we look forward to hearing your response to the points we make.


We set out below a small schedule of our calculations in table form.


Yours sincerely,

Harriet Harman MP, Camberwell and Peckham

Kate Hoey MP, Vauxhall

Simon Hughes MP, Bermondsey & Old Southwark

Tessa Jowell MP, Dulwich and West Norwood

Chuka Umunna MP, Streatham


Table of calculations


Approximately 150,000 people go to King’s A&E per year.  Approximately 120,000 to Lewisham’s A&E[1]


Approximately 84,000 (70%) of Lewisham’s A&E patients are predicted to use a nearby hospital’s A&E – with the majority choosing King’s - rather than the urgent care centre at Lewisham[2]

120,000 x 0.7 = 84,000


Calculating ‘the majority’ as 75% - that’s 65,000 extra patients a year going to King’s A&E

85,000 x 0.75 = 65,000


65,000 patients going to King’s if Lewisham A&E closes is 54% of Lewisham’s current A&E users

(65,000/120,000)*100 = 54.17%

- and an increase of 43% for King’s A&E

(65,000/150,000)*100 = 43.33%



Of the 400 people who go to King’s A&E each day approximately 75-80 are admitted[3] - using the figure of 75 people per day- that’s an admittance rate of about 18.75% or 28,000 patients annually

(75/400)*100 = 18.75%

150,000 * 0.187 = 28,125


Applying the same rate to an increased number of patients at King’s A&E annually that would be at least an additional 12,200 people needing to be admitted.

150,000 + 65,000 = 215,000

215,000 *0.1875 = 40,312.5



(12,187.5/28,125)*100 = 43.33%



There are approximately 6,000 births annually at King’s[4], 4,000 births annually at Lewisham[5]


3,235 births from Lewisham would go to King’s[6] 


That’s an increase of almost 54%

(3,235/6,000)*100 = 53.92%


[1] Figure provided by King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

[1] Estimate by Lewisham’s GP Clinical Commissioning Group

[1] Figures provided by King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

[1] Figure provided by King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

[1] University Hospital Lewisham trust 2011/12 data

[1] Estimate by Public Health Lewisham (http://www.tsa.nhs.uk/sites/default/files/documents/Public%20Health%20Lewisham%20Response.pdf)



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