Thousands of people turned out yesterday to protest against plans to close Lewisham Hospital's A&E and maternity departments, and to downgrade it into a place for outpatient treatment and non-complex surgery. The proposal is part of the rescue package for the bust South London Health Trust, which Lewisham isn't a part of and yet is set to bear the brunt of the cuts (see our post from last month for more information).
Marchers gathered at the top of Lewisham High Street before walking down for a 'hands around the hospital' and rally at Ladywell Fields. Numbers are hard to estimate, but what is certain is that all turnout expectations were blown to pieces: the police have come up with a far-too-low count of 2,000*, while organisers suggest as many as 15,000 took part. We wouldn't be surprised to find that 10,000 people stuck two fingers up at the weather and the plans – there was a lengthy and solid line of marchers on the mile-long route. That's a lot of angry residents.
The Evening Standard managed to cock up its reporting of the march, initially publishing that
hopes of forming a human chain around the building were abandoned after the miserable weather put people off attending
That story is now updated on the ES website to reflect 'what actually happened', but you can see the screengrab in the gallery.
Photos by Tom Royal, londonbackpackr and Andy Worthington. *MPS Lewisham's Twitter account acknowledges that the figure of 2,000 came from the start of the march and the real attendance is likely much higher.