I spoke at the Save Lewisham Hospital Victory Rally on Saturday. This is what I said:
Every individual who signed a petition, who wrote to the Secretary of State and who marched in the rain .. and the sun – played a part in winning this battle to save Lewisham Hospital A&E and Maternity unit. But it is only the first battle – we are involved in a struggle which is far from over and there are more battles ahead.
In part that struggle is against arrogance – against people who know nothing of this part of London and its people but think they can descend on us with their expensive advisers and do just whatever they like.
When they are told that the law doesn’t not permit them to behave in this way they simply ignore it and do what they want anyway.
We told them they were wrong – and they ignored us
So we took them to court – and a judge told them they were wrong too
So how does an arrogant person respond? He tells the judge he is wrong of course!
Well we will be back in court next month and once again we will make it clear that they were wrong in the beginning and they are still wrong now!
But this is also a struggle for something beyond differing interpretations of Acts of Parliament.
It is a struggle to assert the right of the people who use and deliver health services to have a real say in their future.
This has been an intelligent, well informed campaign – it has not been about knee jerk responses that nothing can ever change.
It has though been about saying to those arrogant people who think they know all the answers – why don’t you stop, listen to us, talk to us and let us locally work out the best way forward.
The NHS is perhaps the greatest institution Britain has produced – it is our pride and we want it to go on serving us and our children and our children’s children down through the years.
In local hands it will change to meet changing circumstances – but it will be safe.
But if the arrogant people from the centre have their way – it will never be safe again – here or anywhere else.
And that is why together we will go on fighting – and winning these battles until our NHS is safe again.