Wednesday, September 2, 1998 Published at 13:15 GMT 14:15 UK
Guy's casualty is closed in £100m reorganisation
The government claims it is backing London's NHS
Two of London's leading hospitals are to receive a total of £100m to help them re-organise services, the government has announced.
Health Secretary Frank Dobson claimed the cash demonstrated the government's on-going commitment to St Thomas's and Guy's hospitals.
However, critics rounded on Mr Dobson for confirming that the accident and emergency department at Guy's would be closed from September next year.
Mr Dobson also announced that the re-organisation would include the transfer of children's and maternity treatment from Guy's to St Thomas's.
Women's treatment boosted
To finance the reorganisation St Thomas's, in Lambeth, will receive £50m for a new children's hospital, £15m to improve women's treatment, and £22m to boost accident and emergency services.
Guy's hospital, in Southwark, will be given £13m to spend on a specialist cancer and renal services.
Health Secretary Frank Dobson said: "It's wonderful news for patients in south east London. The future of these two hospitals is now certain. Now everyone can settle down and get on with their jobs, which is what they have always wanted to do."
St Thomas's will treat approximately 25,000 of the 65,000 patients that would have been seen each year at the Guy's A&E department.
Other casualties are to be treated at King's hospital in Denmark Hill and Lewisham hospital, which are to be given an extra 100 beds to cope with increased demand.
St Thomas's hospital said the investment of £22m in its casualty department would be enough to cope with extra patients, which are estimated to rise to 100,000.
A minor injury unit is to be built at Guy's to treat those with less serious injuries, who would otherwise have been treated in an accident and emergency department.
The Government is providing £50m of the investment with the other £50m coming from a grant given by the Special Trustees of St Thomas's, an independent charity.
Liberal Democrat health spokesman Simon Hughes condemned the transfer of services.
He said: "Before the election, Labour pledged that Guy's would be saved on day one of a Labour government. It is little short of scandalous that the Government has agreed to spend £50m of taxpayers' money to build at St Thomas's a children's hospital which already exists only a mile or so away from Guy's."
Mr Dobson has pledged that 350 beds will be kept at Guy's, compared to the previous Government's pledge of 112.
But Mr Hughes said that was still a decrease from the 684 beds that were once open at Guy's.
Geoff Martin, campaigns manager for London Health Emergency, said: "This is a disastrous decision that will pile unbearable pressure on over-stretched accident and emergency services across south London.
"The closure of Guy's Accident and Emergency department was unacceptable under the last government and it is even worse under a new Labour government elected on a platform of defending the NHS," he said.
World class services
"It an end of a long period of certainty. We now have a clear plan and we can get ahead and implement new quality services.
"The closure of any A&E department is always going to be difficult and controversial, but we are confident that we will have the facilities to give people the right quality of services they need."
A hospital spokesman said it was essential that the children's hospital was based at St Thomas's so that it was not divorced from the A&E department.
He added that the current children's hospital at Guy's was based in outdated and cramped accommodation