§ Mr. Simon Hughes (Southwark and Bermondsey)
I have the honour to present, together with many colleagues on both sides of the House, a petition with well over 1 million signatures in support of Guy's hospital in Southwark and London Bridge. The petition is a response to a strategic decision announced by the Secretary of State 567 a year ago yesterday, which would mean the rundown of Guy's hospital, the removal of most of its beds and the closure of its accident and emergency unit.
Guy's is one of the most valued and most used hospitals, not just in the City but in this country. It is also one of the most famous hospitals in the world. It is clear that there is mass public opposition to the Government's proposal.
The petition reads:To the Honourable the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembledThe humble petition of the friends, past and present patients and the staff of Guy's Hospital and the people who live and work near Guy's,>ShewethThat Guy's Hospital is a vital service to the people of Southwark, South East London, South East England and beyond.Wherefore your petitioners pray that your honourable House believes that the decision announced by the Secretary of State on 10th of February 1994 with regard to Guy's should be reversed and that a full accident and emergency service should be kept at the Hospital and that all the beds necessary for a fully functioning hospital should be retained on the Guy's site.And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray, etc.If ever a response was needed to the current consultation on the future of Guy's hospital, this must be the time.
§ To lie upon the Table.9.41 am
§ Mr. Roger Sims (Chislehurst)
I beg to present a petition on behalf of my constituents and many thousands of other people. Its terms are identical to those recited by the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes). I shall not detain the House by repeating them. As he said, it is part of a petition that has attracted well over 1 million signatures.
I warmly endorse the views expressed in the petition. I am especially concerned that thousands of people who daily travel to and work in the City of London should continue to have available to them the services of the accident and emergency department at Guy's. I also believe that it is essential that patients and their relatives in south-east London and much further beyond should continue to enjoy easy access to the in-patient facilities at Guy's through London Bridge station. That benefit should continue.
§ To lie upon the Table.9.42 am
§ Mrs. Bridget Prentice (Lewisham, East)
I wish to present a petition on behalf of the people of Lewisham. Its words are similar to those of the petition presented by the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes). It calls for Guy's hospital, particularly its accident and emergency unit, to remain open. I have 568 nothing to add to what the hon. Gentleman and the hon. Member for Chislehurst (Mr. Sims) said, other than that I hope that the Secretary of State will pay close attention to the views of the more than 1 million people from south-east London and beyond who believe that Guy's hospital is essential to the quality of health care in their area.
§ To lie upon the Table.
§ Ms Harriet Harman (Peckham)
I beg to present a petition on behalf of my constituents in Peckham. As other hon. Members have said, more than 1 million people have signed it. They are saying that the Secretary of State must listen; she has got it wrong. More than 1 million people say that she must not close Guy's hospital. She must change her mind.
§ To lie upon the Table.9.44 am
§ Ms Tessa Jowell (Dulwich)
I beg leave to present a petition on behalf of my constituents in Dulwich, as part of the petition already referred to by other hon. Members. It has attracted 1 million signatures from across the country. People have pledged their support for the retention of the accident and emergency unit and all acute services at Guy's hospital. South-east London cannot manage without Guy's. The country cannot manage without Guy's.
§ To lie upon the Table.9.45 am
§ Ms Joan Ruddock (Lewisham, Deptford)
I beg leave to present a petition on behalf of my constituents in Lewisham, Deptford. They collected 6,000 names as part of this enormous petition. My constituents are part of a deprived community with very great health needs and Lewisham hospital alone cannot service those needs. Many people are dependent on Guy's hospital, especially the accident and emergency unit—[Interruption.] Conservative Members seem to think that this is a matter for some mirth, but our constituents feel very seriously that their lives are being threatened. The Secretary of State made a life-and-death decision a year ago. That decision must be reversed—the petition says so.
§ To lie upon the Table.
§ Mr. Jim Dowd (Lewisham, West)
I associate myself and the people of Lewisham, West with the overwhelming number of people—1 million—who have signed the petition. We ask the Secretary of State to end the turmoil that has been the hallmark of health services in south-east London for many years. Further, we ask her to protect and defend one of the finest centres of medical excellence anywhere in the world. As the petition makes plain, it is not just people in south-east London, but people right across the nation who want that.
§ To lie upon the Table.