RE: Withybush demonstration - an open letter to the Withybush campaigners.

SAVE Lewisham Hospital Campaign sends our total support and we congratulate you on your demonstration.

One year ago, on January 26, 25,000 people marched in Lewisham, South London, in opposition to the Government’s plans to close down all the acute services at Lewisham Hospital.

So similar to your fight, we were facing closure of maternity services, the A&E department and all acute medical and surgical services for children and for adults, including the frail and elderly.

With a tremendous sense of solidarity across our community - including Lewisham pensioner forum, our ‘Buggy Army’, faith groups, health staff, GPs and local politicians - we marched in defence of the hospital and the right to accessible, safe and high quality hospital care.

The very next week the Government ignored our community voice and decided to close Lewisham.

We vowed to fight on until victory, buoyed up by the strength of our community campaign. Eventually we have won, with the Government losing its appeal in October against our Judicial Review victory in July. Lewisham Hospital has - for now - been saved!

We know what you are going through: the fear and the anger at the prospect of losing your essential hospital services; we faced lies, misinformation, deceits and a disgraceful failure to assess the health needs of the community - especially vulnerable populations such as children, the elderly, problems in pregnancy, and those with mental health problems, and disabilities who were totally ignored. We faced denials about the risks to health caused by increased travel times following closures of local services. Consultation was dishonest and decisions had already been made.

We hope that our victory lends encouragement to your endeavour. We send solidarity to your demonstration and wish you every success in your campaign in every quarter, including your own Judicial Review application.

We hope your health staff and doctors, and your trade unions link arms with your community and local groups.

We join you from 250 miles away in saying: Save Withybush Hospital - Save Our NHS!

Thank you.