Closing the accident and emergency department at Guy's Hospital in south London will put 'unbearable strain' on neighbouring units, it has been claimed.

Health secretary Frank Dobson gave the go-ahead last week to a 100m redevelopment of Guy's and St Thomas' hospitals, saying this would give them 'a clear future after years of uncertainty'.

Liberal Democrat MP Simon Hughes condemned the decision as 'Labour's great betrayal and Labour's great mistake'.

And Malcolm Alexander, chief officer of Southwark community health council, said St Thomas' A&E would be 'stretched to breaking' by the plans. 'We are going to carry on fighting,' he said.

Mr Dobson said 22m would be invested in extra A&E capacity at St Thomas', which will also gain a 50m 'state of the art' children's hospital. But Mr Hughes described this as a 'scandalous' waste of money when one existed at Guy's.