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Weekly urges ministers to keep election promises

A South-East London weekly is continuing its fight to save local hospital services amid mixed signals from the government over whether they will be cut.

During the recent general election campaign, Conservative candidates promised to back the Kentish Times campaign to preserve A&E and maternity services at Queen Mary’s Hospital, Sidcup.

But the Con-Lib coalition government has refused to give any guarantees despite one Tory MP, James Brokenshire, pledging there would be “no forced closure.”

A health department spokesperson told the Times last week: “It doesn’t matter what promises came from the Conservatives. There are other people who are in the ministerial team. It is a coalition government. Decisions will be made on a collective basis. It is too early to comment on individual hospitals.”

The Times has fought a long battle to preserve the hospital services which have been under threat since 2007.

Last year, the newspaper won a notable victory by using the Freedom of Information Act to expose the fact that the health trust behind the closure plan had made unproven claims about the level of support among health professionals for the plans.

A victorious outcome had looked likely for the campaign after the new health secretary Andrew Lansley promised he would “put an end to the imposition of top-down reconfigurations in the NHS” and ordered a halt to all ongoing reorganisations in London.

However the South London Healthcare Trust bosses behind the plan say they not been told to stop the cuts and are still pressing ahead with the plans.

Kentish Times series group editor Melody Foreman said: “The Times campaign has always questioned the truth of claims which repeatedly alleged that 100 clinicians supported plans to axe QMS’ services.

“Surely the brutal proposals of the previous government to axe these vital services will be scrapped, proving the opinions of local people do have some power after all.”