through the courts.
The pre-action letter sent to Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt says: 'The Council’s firm view, on legal advice, is that the TSA had no power under the relevant statutory regime, to consider, or to make recommendations to you about, services provided by any NHS body other than South London Healthcare, the Trust to which you appointed him. It follows from this that you, in making a decision on the TSA’s recommendations, had no power to make a decision which purports to affect the operation of Lewisham Hospital.'
The letter gives the Secretary of State until 22 February to withdraw his decision affecting Lewisham Hospital. If he does not then the Council will seek judicial review of the decision. The Council has also sent a similar letter to the Trust Special Administrator Matthew Kershaw.
Mayor of Lewisham Sir Steve Bullock said: 'Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt’s decision to press ahead with the downgrade of Lewisham Hospital’s maternity and emergency services was a kick in the stomach for Lewisham’s community.
'The plans were roundly rejected by local people, by the staff who work in the hospital and by local GPs. We will now fight to save Lewisham Hospital by challenging this decision through the courts.'
The Council has also set up a Legal Challenge Fund to allow people in the community to contribute to the action. 'People in the community have already asked me how they could contribute to fighting this decision. That is why we have set up a Legal Challenge Fund to enable people to make their own financial contribution to the action.'
Donations can be made online at www.lewisham.gov.uk/legalchallengefund. All the money given will go to offset legal costs. In the event that the court awards costs in the Council’s favour or if for any other reason donations are not required then the Council has pledged to donate the money to local charity Children First Lewisham.
London Borough of Lewisham media release: 8 February 2013