Late this afternoon, MPs debated the Hospital Closure Clause. Since then, the office team has been trying to work out what to make of how it went. It’s quite complicated, and there’s still quite a lot of analysis to be done.
Here’s some questions 38 Degrees members will need to consider together over the next few days:
- how far has the government moved to meet our concerns?
- the government says the changes needed can be written into guidance which is prepared after the law is passed. Is this true, or do we need to amend the law further when it returns to the House of Lords?
- what other things could we be doing, together, to keep our local hospitals safe?
Please comment below with your thoughts.
Here’s what Paul Burstow MP thinks:
I want to thank 38 Degrees members in my constituency and across the country for raising concerns about the changes the Government was proposing to the way in which a hospital in serious financial or clinical trouble is handled in the NHS. Trust special administration (TSA) as it is known was introduced by Labour in 2009. It is a blunt process that should only ever be used in exceptional circumstances.
For me the starting point must be that decisions about the future of local health services are grounded in clinical evidence, supported by local clinicians and drawn up with the active involvement of local people. In the last few days with the support of emails from 38 Degree members to MPs and the 159,000 signatures we have got the Government to make some important concessions. The amendment played a vital part in getting Ministers attention.
Today Ministers gave Parliament the assurance that everything possible will be done to help any potentially failing hospital to sort out their difficulties so that a TSA is only ever used in rare and extreme circumstances. Following my lobbying Ministers have amended the Bill to strengthen public and patient involvement by the inclusion of local Healthwatch. In addition local councils are being added for the first time too. In the Lewisham case the local Council played a vital role in standing up for local people.
Also as a result of today TSAs will have to consult with NHS Trusts and their staff and with commissioners (CCGs) of any affected NHS organisations. And as a result of the amendment Ministers have conceded that equal weight must be given to views of each involved Trust, staff and commissioners. Finally Ministers confirmed in response to my amendment that any TSA plan must have the agreement of ALL relevant commissioners.
When it came to pushing the amendment to the vote I had to make a fine judgement. Having secured important changes and commitments from the Government I took the view that pushing the amendment to a vote ran the risk of defeat and sacrificing what the Government had offered.
That is not the end of the matter. A cross party committee of MPs and Peers will be set up to agree the guidance to TSAs. I will be chairing that Committee and I am keen to engage with 38 Degree members as we draw up the rules to make sure the views of local clinicians and local people are heard.