King's chaplain slams South London Line cut

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Monday, 13 July 2009   by Jenny Clover  South London Press

A CHAPLAIN has denounced plans to cut a train service which serves staff and visitors at the hospital where he works.  Rev David Rushton, 39, works at King’s College Hospital in Denmark Hill.  He spoke out against plans to cut the South London Line (SLL) – the train service which runs from Victoria to London Bridge through Denmark Hill.
If the SLL is axed in 2012 as planned, Denmark Hill will lose all direct links into London Bridge and will have just two trains an hour to Victoria, which will not run past 7.30pm or on Sundays.
Mr Rushton said: “I know a lot of our patients, and particularly their families who need to get to see them, rely heavily on the SLL. Many families come to King’s from a long way out of London and we have quite a few from Northern Ireland.
“We have got used to living in London but for many people it's a daunting prospect.
“It isn't the easiest place to understand, especially if you are elderly and are going through the difficult time of a loved one being taken into hospital. 

The line is the only link between King’s and the Maudsley Hospital in Denmark Hill, and partner hospital Guy's in London Bridge.  The South London Press has joined a campaign by community groups, South London MPs and hospitals to fight plans to axe the line. If the SLL is cut, relatives who fly here or get trains into London would have to negotiate a series of bus routes to get to King's, or drive.
The chaplain said:

"Relatives are often very unaware of how the buses work in London and they are difficult if you are not familiar with the capital. Many people, particularly the elderly, don’t want to drive into London because they are scared by the roads. And we are supposed to be encouraging people not to use their cars. It seems bizarre we are in a situation where a service that brings hundreds of people into a hospital every day is under threat."

Mr Rushton has been a chaplain at the hospital for seven years, offering support and care to patients, their families, staff and students.