38 Degrees Logo38 Degrees Logo 38 Degrees Logo

Posts by Johnny

Save our NHS: What Lansley said in the House of Commons

September 8th, 2011 by

This week in the House of Commons, the Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, and a number of other MPs mentioned the Save our NHS campaign. We have made a detailed statement on Mr Lansley’s statements here.

Below is a transcript (copied from Hansard) of the specific things mentioned, along with our comments (shown in red).

Mr Lansley: This Bill, for the first time, stops the Secretary of State—and, indeed, Monitor or the NHS commissioning board—from trying deliberately to increase the market share of a particular type of provider. If the previous Labour Government had put such a requirement in law when they were in office, hundreds of millions of pounds would not have been paid to independent sector treatment centres to carry out operations that were not required and never took place. If the Opposition had their way this afternoon, the safeguards that we intend to put in place would not be available.

In its response to the opportunity provided by Report stage, the Labour party is being not progressive but reactionary, while the trade unions are being misleading in the presentation of their campaign. To be specific, the trade unions and other proxy organisations such as 38 Degrees have gone to some trouble to misrepresent the Bill in order to attack it.

That’s simply not true. We have not misrepresented information, deliberately or otherwise. If the Secretary of State still believes we have then we would invite him to provide examples. We note Mr Lansley made this statement inside the House of Commons – where libel laws do not apply.

Toby Perkins (Chesterfield) (Lab): I am grateful to the Secretary of State for giving way. Does he think that the British Medical Association, too, is misrepresenting the position when it says that even after Report stage there will still be too much emphasis on using market forces to shape health services? Is the BMA misrepresenting the truth as well, or is it just the Labour party?

Mr Lansley: As far as the BMA is concerned, I was interested to read this morning a letter whose lead signatory was Hamish Meldrum, the chairman of the BMA council, whom I know well. It was curious because his objection to the Bill, which he wants to be amended, was about the introduction and extension of the role of “any qualified provider”. However, that extension is not in the Bill. It is not occasioned by the Bill; it is a consequence of the way in which commissioners—
[Interruption.] No, it does not. If there were no Bill, it would be open to strategic health authorities and primary care trusts to extend “any qualified provider” and patient choice in the NHS to whatever extent they wished. The Bill does not make that happen. The point is that under the legislation there is a stronger safeguarding process, because the commissioners—
Toby Perkins rose—

Mr Lansley: I will finish answering the hon. Gentleman before letting him intervene again.
The safeguard structure will be stronger, because commissioners must ensure, for example, that they meet their duty of continuous improvement of quality, their duty of safety and their duty of integration of services and other duties, including a duty to promote patient choice—but of course they have to balance those duties. Whether they extend “any qualified provider” is a matter of judgment. If they took the view that the extension of patient choice would be inimical to the integration of services and the improvement of quality, they would not go ahead with it. The hon. Gentleman and his colleagues should recall that they have put in an NHS constitutional right for patients to exercise choice, so if the commissioners think it is possible to promote choice and improve quality by extending the any qualified provider remit, they can do it, but the Bill is not what enables it. It is therefore curious that the Bill should be attacked on that basis.

Toby Perkins: I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for giving way a second time. That was a very long answer to a short question, but I understand the Secretary of State to be saying that the BMA is wrong and the Labour party is wrong. Everyone I meet in the health service tells me that it is the Secretary of State who has got it wrong. He has come back here once again, confirming that he is not listening to what people are saying to him. He thinks the BMA is misleading people, but is it possible that he is the one who has got it wrong?

Mr Lansley: I will give the hon. Gentleman a shorter answer this time: he does not talk to enough people in the NHS. Let me return to the important point that I was about to make. I was saying that criticism of the Bill has typically developed to the point of literally misrepresenting the facts in order to attack the Bill, as was the case with 38 Degrees.

Again, that’s simply not true. We have not misrepresented information, deliberately or otherwise.

I am indebted to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham (Stephen Phillips) for sharing with me a letter that he prepared for the better information of his constituents. He looked at the legal opinion obtained by 38 Degrees and concluded that it did not support the views that those behind the 38 Degrees website evidently wished that it did.

Again Mr Lansley makes false accusations that are simply not true. We have not misrepresented information, deliberately or otherwise. 38 Degrees is a member driven campaign movement with over 850,000 members from all over the UK. Thousands of us paid for two legal opinions to get to the bottom of the muddle Andrew Lansley has created with his latest NHS plans. We obtained a legal opinion on the duty to provide and a legal opinion on competition and procurement. We made both public and invite Mr Lansley to read them for himself.

For example, 38 Degrees claims that the Bill removes the Secretary of State’s duty to provide a comprehensive health service. However, its own legal advice makes it clear that the Secretary of State has never had a duty to provide a comprehensive health service—only a duty to “promote” a comprehensive health service, which is exactly reproduced in clause 1.

We would invite My Lansley to read the legal opinion here: http://www.38degrees.org.uk/page/content/NHS-legal-advice/. In no place in the legal opinion, or any summary documents, do we make this claim. The phrase Mr Lansley repeats is present on our website – but its use predated the legal opinion he is referring to and has not, to the best of our knowledge, been used since. The matter was clarified for us in the legal opinion which was published last month.

Clause 1 also makes it clear that the Secretary of State must secure the provision of that service. The “duty to provide” certain services to which 38 Degrees refers is a duty that I, as Secretary of State, currently delegate to primary care trusts. In future, the Bill will—in exactly the same way—pass that duty of the Secretary of State to the NHS commissioning board and to clinical commissioning groups. In other words, the situation will be legally unchanged. The Secretary of State has a duty, and discharges it through organisations to which he or she delegates that power. Strictly speaking, they have more direct statutory duties, but the position in terms of the duty to provide will not change.

Following the advice from Stephen Cragg, it is clear that the “duty to provide”, which is currently placed on the Secretary of State, primarily under s.3(1), but also under s.1(2) for the purpose of promoting a comprehensive health service, is being removed. Therefore the duty to provide a national health service is lost and instead is replaced by a duty on an unknown number of commissioning consortia with responsibility for their separate areas only. And, as our legal advice makes clear, the Commissioning Board will not have the same duty as currently contained in the Act, which is ultimately placed on the Secretary of State. Therefore, it is simply not correct to state that the position is the same from a legal perspective.

Our legal advice makes this point clear in the executive summary:
It is clear that the drafters of the Health and Social Care Bill intend that the functions of the Secretary of State in relation to the NHS in England are to be greatly curtailed. The most striking example of this is the loss of the duty to provide services pursuant to section 3 of the NHS Act 2006, which is currently placed on the Secretary of State. This will be transferred to the commissioning consortia, and reformulated accordingly. In real terms this means that, effectively, the government will be less accountable in legal terms for the services that the NHS provides.

Currently, the duty in section 3(1) has been delegated to Primary Care Trusts (PCTs). However, this is pursuant to statutory powers of delegation (for example under section 7 of the NHS Act 2006), and these powers can be exercised in a different way, or not exercised at all, if the Secretary of State so chooses.

Effectively, the duty to provide a national health service would be lost if the Bill becomes law. It would be replaced by a duty on an unknown number of commissioning consortia with only a duty to make or arrange provision for that section of the population for which it is responsible.

38 Degrees also claims that the Bill opens up the NHS to competition law, but its own legal advice—which it obviously did not like—made clear that there would be no change between the present competition regime and that which would operate if and when the Bill became law. I am very grateful to my hon. and learned Friend, whose forensic analysis accords with our own view. The provision, under the Bill, of a comprehensive NHS is watertight, and it is equally clear that the Bill does not change the extent of the application of competition law and EU procurement rules.

The 38 Degrees campaign should be seen for the distorting and misleading political propaganda that it is.

It’s a misrepresentation of our legal advice (maybe, to use Lansley’s words, “distorting and misleading political propaganda”?) to claim that our legal advice concludes the bill has no implications for competition in the health service:

As regards the applicability of domestic and European competition law to the NHS, it is likely that, even as matters stand, and in view in particular of recent non-statutory reforms which increase the involvement of the private and third sector in health services provision, competition law already applies to PCTs and NHS providers.

The reforms introduced by the Bill however will serve to reinforce that conclusion and introduce elements which make it even more likely that domestic and European competition law applies to the NHS. There is nothing in the Bill which has or can have the effect of preventing the application of competition law. Nor can the Act preserve the enforcement of competition law to the sectoral regulator, Monitor, since a breach of the prohibitions on anti-competitive conduct gives rises to actionable claims in the High Court by any person affected.

It is interesting to note that earlier this year Mr Lansley accepted that the current position on competition law was uncertain. He told the Health Select Committee.

If you’re trying to establish with certainty what the boundary of the application of competition law is, then it’s a matter of debate and it will be something that will only be determined over time as there are cases brought before the courts,

Our legal advice makes clear that the position on competition law has not yet been decided definitively. The Department of Health, on the other hand, in a response to Ms Hayne’s advice, seems to suggest competition law does not currently apply. What Ms Hayne’s advice says is that it is likely that competition law does currently apply but that the Bill reinforces that conclusion and makes it even more likely that competition law applies. The important point is that the Government have suggested that they can limit the impact of competition law. They can’t and they have not properly considered what the potential implications of competition law applying are.

We do not claim that procurement law does not currently apply. It does but the truth is that following the Bill it will apply to the new consortia, who may be ill-equipped to deal with the complexities of the law, as highlighted in our legal advice. This point is not addressed by Mr Lansley.

Posted in 38 Degrees Blog Posts

Tags:

Busting the NHS myths

September 7th, 2011 by

Yesterday morning at 9:31 the Department of Health published a “myth buster” on a government website. It is published below, along with a number of corrections (shown in red).

TOP MYTHS

 MYTH: The Health Secretary will wash his hands of the NHS
The Bill does not change the Secretary of State’s duty to promote a comprehensive health service. 

This is very carefully worded. It totally avoids addressing one of the main issues with Andrew Lansley’s plans – that the bill would remove the “Duty to Provide” a health service currently contained in s.3(1) and 1(2) of the 2006 Act.  Why do you continue to dodge the issue Mr Lansley?

 MYTH: Bureaucracy will increase significantly
We are abolishing needless bureaucracy, and our plans will save one third of all administration costs during this Parliament.

The plans may abolish some bureaucracy, but our legal advice warns that the plans have the potential to increase bureaucracy too. See the quote from pages one and two of the executive summary, below:

 The procurement regime is a complicated and developing body of rules and case law which gives rise to enforceable rights in the High Court and makes available draconian remedies and penalties for breach of the Regulations. The practical and financial implications of ensuring that goods and services are procured compliantly are considerable. There is a real risk that there will be a deficit of incumbent expertise in new consortia to cope with the regulatory burden. It appears however that the government has simply failed to grapple with the frontline issues in procurement, has wholly underestimated the increasing rather than diminishing complexity in the area and has had no or perhaps little regard to the administrative and financial burdens arising from the regime.

Taken from: IN THE MATTER OF THE HEALTH AND SOCIAL CARE BILL AND THE APPLICATION OF PROCUREMENT AND COMPETITION LAW – an independent legal opinion provide by Rebecca Haynes of Monkton Chambers.

 Will you publish your calculations, Mr Lansley, and include the increased bureaucratic costs and redundancy payments your plans would mean?

MYTH: You are introducing competition in the NHS
Competition will not be pursued as an end in itself. We have said that competition will be used to drive up quality, and not be based on price. Nor will we allow competition to be a barrier to collaboration and integration.

This avoids the question posed, which is what the impact of competition law on the NHS could be. This issue has not yet been tested. In addition, the Government is not able to limit the operation of competition law so cannot promise to ensure collaboration and integration. Our independent legal advice confirms both these points:

As regards the applicability of domestic and European competition law to the  NHS, it is likely that, even as matters stand, and in view in particular of recent  non-statutory reforms which increase the involvement of the private and third  sector in health services provision, competition law already applies to PCTs and  NHS providers. 

The reforms introduced by the Bill however will serve to reinforce that conclusion and introduce elements which make it even more likely that domestic and European competition law applies to the NHS. There is nothing in the Bill which has or can have the effect of preventing the application of competition law. Nor can the Act preserve the enforcement of competition law to the sectoral regulator, Monitor, since a breach of the prohibitions on anti-competitive conduct gives rises to actionable claims in the High Court by any person affected.

The effect of the application of competition law in the NHS is difficult to predict but potentially brings under scrutiny any collaborative and collective arrangements and the exercise of dominant local purchasing or providing power.

The fact however that the government has amended the Bill to remove from the scope of the duties of Monitor the duty to promote competition as an end in itself is arguably futile since the very fact that domestic and European competition law applies to the NHS arguably itself results in the promotion of competition since that is its aim

Questions for Mr Lansley: What will be the full impact of competition law applying to the NHS?

 MYTH: You are privatising the NHS
Claims that we aim to privatise the NHS amount to nothing more than ludicrous scaremongering. We have made it crystal clear, time and again, that we will never, ever, privatise the NHS.

This may depend on your definition of privatisation. Recent reforms, including the latest plans, have opened up the NHS to private providers. It has also been reported that the Department of Health intends to allow private companies to take over NHS hospitals (see here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/sep/04/german-company-takeover-nhs-hospitals.

If the government is not planning to transfer any property to private companies then why are there these powers in the bill?

MYTH: Private patients will take priority over other patients
The NHS will always be available to all, free at the point of use and based on need and not the ability to pay. Nothing in our proposals will enable private patients to “leapfrog” to the front of NHS waiting lists. 

This fails to mention that the plans remove the “private patient income cap”  which means that hospitals will be able to massively expand their care of private patients. It would be helpful if the government could explain exactly how it will be that private patients will not get treated before NHS patients?

MYTH: NHS hospitals will be managed by foreign companies
Even if independent sector management is used, NHS assets will continue to be wholly owned by the NHS. And there would be rigorous checks to ensure that any such independent provider is reputable and fit for purpose.

We note that they are confirming that this is not a myth, it is a fact.

MYTH: The Bill hasn’t had proper scrutiny
The Bill has so far spent longer being scrutinised than any Public Bill between 1997 and 2010 – 40 Committee sittings, and over 100 hours of debate. Even Opposition MPs acknowledged that every inch of the Bill has been looked at.

This is misleading. This bill will bring about the “biggest upheaval in NHS history”* – it is therefore inappropriate to compare it with other bills in the past. There are a wide range of concerns that need to be addressed with the facts – not with comments about how many committee sittings have been held.

*http://www.channel4.com/news/debate-on-nhs-health-and-social-care-bill

MYTH: The NHS doesn’t need to change
The NHS does need to change to meet future challenges of an ageing population and rising costs of treatment. The independent NHS Future Forum confirmed the NHS must change to safeguard it for the future.

The NHS may need to change. But any changes need to be properly tested and well thought through – not rushed through, ignoring the concerns of medical professionals and general public.

MYTH: You are introducing EU competition law in the NHS
The Bill does not change current UK or EU competition legislation or procurement legislation or the areas to which they apply.

It’s ridiculous to claim that a health bill could change EU competition or procurement rules – that would not be possible. The current position on competition law has not been tested. Our advice shows that it may well be the case that competition law already applies. What the bill does is to make it even more likely that competition law applies and the impact of this has not been properly considered. Procurement law will apply to the new consortia, like it applies to PCTs, but the problem here is that there will be many more consortia who are unlikely to have the necessary expertise to handle complex procurement processes.

 

MYTH: These plans were not in the Coalition Agreement
The Coalition Agreement clearly said doctors, nurses and health professionals will be handed freedom to decide what is right for their patients; that we will establish an independent NHS board; that patients will be in charge over their care; and that we will cut the cost of NHS administration by a third to reinvest into the front line.

 


That may be true – but what this does not mention is what else the bill contains that is not contained in the agreement.

Posted in 38 Degrees Blog Posts

Tags:

Tweet & Facebook your Lib Dem MP to Save the NHS

September 5th, 2011 by

twitter

Hundreds of 38 Degrees members are calling their Lib Dem MPs right now – in the run up to a crunch meeting where they could decide to stand up to the government and vote against the NHS plans.

Twitter: If you’re on Twitter you might want to tweet your Lib Dem MP. There’s a full list below

Facebook: Here’s a list of Lib Dem MPs on Facebook too. Why not leave them a comment on their Facebook wall?

LIST OF LIB DEM MPS ON TWITTER

  • David Ward MP – MP for Bradford East – Twitter: @DavidWardMP
  • Ming Campbell MP – MP for North East Fife – Twitter: @MingCampbellMP
  • Simon Wright MP – MP for Norwich South – Twitter: @SimonWrightMP
  • Stephen Williams MP – MP for Bristol West – Twitter: @swilliamsmp
  • Ian Swales MP – MP for Redcar – Twitter: @iswales
  • Julian Huppert MP – MP for Cambridge – Twitter: @julianhuppert
  • Duncan Hames MP – MP for Chippenham – Twitter:  @duncanhames
  • Stephen Gilbert MP – MP for St Austell & Newquay – Twitter: @stephen_gilbert
  • Martin Horwood MP – MP for Chelterham – Twitter: @MartinChelt
  • Adrian Sanders MP – MP for Torbay – Twitter: @adriansandersmp
  • Mark Williams MP – MP for Ceredigion – Twitter: @Mark4ceredigion
  • Charles Kennedy MP – MP for Ross, Skye & Lochaber – Twitter: @charles_kennedy
  • John Leech MP – MP for Manchester Withington – Twitter: @johnleechmcr
  • Paul Burstow MP – MP for Sutton and Cheam – Twitter: @PaulBurstow
  • Don Forster MP – MP for Bath – Twitter: @DonF0sterMP
  • Annette Brooke MP – MP for Mid Dorset & North Poole – Twitter: @Annette4NDMP
  • Malcolm Bruce MP – MP for Gordon – Twitter: @malcolmbruce
  • Michael Moore MP – MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk – Twitter: @Moore4Borders
  • Nick Clegg MP – MP for Sheffield Hallam – Twitter: @nick_clegg
  • Norman Lamb MP – MP for North Norfolk – Twitter: @normanlamb
  • Steve Webb MP – MP for Thornbury & Yate – Twitter: @stevewebb1
  • Tim Farron MP – MP for Westmorland & Lonsdale – Twitter: @timfarron
  • Tom Brake MP – MP for Carshalton and Wallington – Twitter: @thomasbrake
  • Vince Cable MP – MP for Twickenham – Twitter: @vincecable
  • Lynne Featherstone MP – MP for Hornsey and Wood Green – Twitter @lfeatherstone
  • Jo Swinson MP – MP for East Dunbartonshire – Twitter: @joswinson
  • Greg Mulholland MP – MP for Leeds North West – Twitter: @GregMulholland1
  • Edward Davey MP – MP for Kingston and Surbiton – Twitter: @eddaveykands
  • Danny Alexander MP – MP for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey – Twitter: @dannyalexander
  • Chris Huhne MP – MP for Eastleigh – Twitter: @ChrisHuhne
  • Andrew George MP – MP for St Ives – Twitter: @AndrewGeorgeLD
  • Alistair Carmichael MP – MP for Orkney and Shetland  - Twitter: @acarmichaelmp

Note: Thanks to Mark Pack for compiling the list we based this on.

LIST OF LIB DEM MPS ON FACEBOOK

  • Nick Clegg MP – MP for Sheffield Hallam – Facebook: Nick Clegg
  • Norman Baker MP – MP for Lewes – Facebook: Norman Baker
  • Paul Burstow MP – MP for Sutton and Cheam  - Facebook: Paul Bustow
  • Edward Davey MP – MP for Kingston and Surbiton – Facebook: Edward Davey
  • Lynne Featherstone MP – MP for Hornsey and Wood Green - Facebook: Lynne Featherstone
  • Danny Alexander MP – MP for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey – Facebook: Danny Alexander
  • Jeremy Browne MP – MP for Taunton Deane - Facebook: Jeremy Browne
  • Tim Farron MP – MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale – Facebook: Tim Farron
  • Don Foster MP – MP for Bath – Facebook: Don Foster
  • Nick Harvey MP – MP for North Devom – Facebook: Nick Harvey
  • Chris Huhne MP – MP for Eastleigh – Facebook:  Chris Huhne
  • Simon Hughes MP – MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark – Facebook: Simon Hughes
  • David Laws MP – MP for Yeovil – Facebook: David Laws
  • Norman Lamb MP – MP for North Norfolk – Facebook: Norman Lamb
  • Michael Moore MP – MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk – Facebook: Michael Moore
  • Jenny Willot MP – MP for Cardiff Central – Facebook: Jenny Willot
  • Stephen Williams MP – MP for Bristol West – Facebook: Stephen Williams
  • Sarah Teather MP – MP for Brent Central – Facebook: Sarah Teather
  • Steve Webb MP – MP for Thornbury and Yate – Facebook: Steve Webb
  • Alan Beith MP – MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed – Facebook: Alan Beith
  • Tom Brake MP – MP for Carshalton and Wallington – Facebook: Tom Brake
  • Annette Brooke MP – MP for Mid Dorset and North Poole – Facebook: Annette Brooke
  • Ming Campbell MP – MP for North Easte Fife – Facebook: Ming Campbell
  • Alastair Carmichael MP – MP for Orkney and Shetland  - Facebook: Alastair Carmichael
  • John Hemming MP – MP for Birmingham Yardley – Facebook: John Hemming
  • Martin Horwood MP – MP for Cheltenham – Facebook: Martin Horwood
  • Greg Mulholland MP – MP for Leeds North West – Facebook: Greg Mulholland
  • John Pugh MP – MP for Southport – Facebook: John Pugh
  • Dan Rogerson MP – MP for North Cornwall – Facebook: Dan Rogerson
  • Adrian Sanders MP – MP for Torbay – Facebook: Adrian Sanders
  • Andrew Stunell MP – MP for Hazel Grove – Facebook: Andrew Stunell
  • Mark Williams MP – MP for  Ceredigion – Facebook: Mark Williams
LIB DEM FACEBOOK PAGES – Why not write your NHS concerns on the page wall?

Photo: From Flickr by xotoko – shared under Creative Commons licence.

Posted in 38 Degrees Blog Posts

Tags:

Have a Lib Dem MP? Call them today!

September 5th, 2011 by

phonebox

Photograph by Stuart Chalmers

Today’s a big day for your MP and our NHS.

Nick Clegg has called emergency talks today at 5pm, because he’s worried that Liberal Democrat MPs (including yours) are preparing to revolt and vote against the government’s changes to our National Health Service. People power is working.

The news is reporting that support for this bill “hangs in the balance” and many MPs “will not decide until the crucial meeting” if they’ll back Lansley’s plans. They might even push for the bill to be scrapped to protect our NHS.

Imagine your MP sitting in their office today, worrying about the big meeting and the vote. Every two minutes their phones goes, and each time it’s a 38 Degrees member from their constituency, telling them to stand up for our precious NHS. That could tip the balance, and send a clear signal to the government that this is bill is heading for the dustbin of history.

The 38 Degrees website makes it easy to call your MP. Enter your postcode, and you’ll get their number, as well as ideas about what to say when they answer the phone. Make the call now:

https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/phone-your-lib-dem-MP

Photo: From Flickr by Stuart Chalmers – shared under Creative Commons licence.

Update 1 – You can tweet your Lib Dem MP too. 38 Degrees volunteers have put together a list of all Lib Dem MPs on Twitter.

Posted in 38 Degrees Blog Posts

Tags:

Exposed- Liberal Democrat response to independent NHS legal advice

September 2nd, 2011 by

We have received a Liberal Democrat document by Paul Burstow MP – the Liberal Democrat Minister for Care Services. In the document Paul Burstow tells Liberal Democrat MPs how to respond to 38 Degrees’s independent legal advice which was published earlier this week.

Unfortunately this document has a number of errors and misrepresentations of the independent legal advice obtained by 38 Degrees.

We have published the full document – along with some draft comments shown in red below. If you have comments or corrections do share them below in comments.

It’s worth pointing out that at many points the document says “38 Degrees” when it appears it should say something like “the independent legal advice paid for by 38 Degrees members”.

Some Lib Dem MPs are now sending Paul Burstow’s document to their constituents. If you’ve received a similar email from your Lib Dem MP you can share this rebuttal by emailing them here.

You can download a PDF of the document here.

Lib Dem RebuttalUpdate:

You can download a PDF of the document here.

Posted in 38 Degrees Blog Posts

Tags:

Save our NHS – share your MP’s reply

August 31st, 2011 by

UK Parliament

Photograph by Lancey (Flickr)

Over the last 24 hours, tens of thousands of 38 Degrees members have emailed their MP urging them to look at the independent legal advice – paid for by 38 Degrees.

MPs are starting to feel the heat – momentum’s building.

But we need to quickly work out where our MPs stand so that we know which MPs are taking the legal advice seriously and which are planning to ignore it.

1. You can share your MP’s reply quickly and easily here.
2. Then see what other 38 Degrees members have heard back from their MP here.

Posted in 38 Degrees Blog Posts

Tags:

NHS legal review on Duty to Provide & Competition – published today

August 30th, 2011 by

Earlier in the summer, 3,652 38 Degrees members from across the UK donated to pay for a legal team to get to the bottom of Andrew Lansley’s plans for our NHS.

For the last two months our independent legal team has been hard at work examining the government’s NHS plans. Now their legal reviews are ready – and they make grim reading.

If you want to find out more you can read a summary of the legal advice, and download both documents on this page.

This blog will be updated over the next few hours with more details of the legal review and ways you can get involved.

Find the PDF here: Download File

Update 1 – You can read the full legal reviews using the Scribd viewers below:

Duty to Provide legal review – NHS health and social care bill

Read the PDF here: Download File

NHS legal review: Competition and Procurement.

Update 2 – Media coverage from the results of our NHS legal opinions

NHS bill ‘will let Andrew Lansley wash his hands of health service’
http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/aug/29/nhs-bill-lansley-wash-hands

NHS Reforms: ‘Govt Must Answer Concerns’
http://news.sky.com/home/politics/article/16058928

MPs Brace For Email Onslaught As 38 Degrees Target Health And Social Care Bill
http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/08/30/department-of-health_n_941444.html

Now lawyers move in to make a killing off Lansley’s NHS reforms
http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/now-lawyers-move-in-to-make-a-killing-off-lansleys-nhs-reforms-2345854.html

NHS ‘ripe for plunder’ under Tory reforms
http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/2011/08/30/nhs-ripe-for-plunder-under-tory-reforms-115875-23382057/

NHS reforms end govt. accountability
http://www.presstv.ir/detail/196543.html

Lansley will ‘wash his hands’ of NHS if Health Bill passed, lawyers warn
http://www.gponline.com/News/article/1087442/lansley-will-wash-hands-nhs-health-bill-passed-lawyers-warn/

Posted in 38 Degrees Blog Posts

Tags:

NHS legal review – update on our crack legal team!

July 28th, 2011 by

Stethoscope

Photograph by diekatrin (Flickr)

Great news – we’ve raised enough money to bring in lawyers to go through the government’s NHS plans with a fine-toothed comb. We needed a minimum of £10,000 to get started – so far thousands of 38 Degrees members have together donated £38,767!

A team led by senior health lawyer Stephen Cragg has already started looking at the future of the government’s “duty to provide” a comprehensive health system. The legal team are already pouring over the NHS bill and all 180 amendments to establish if the government is trying to duck it’s “Duty to Provide” a comprehensive NHS and if so what that means. They’re also looking at other issues like how open to legal challenge decisions by new commissioning groups will be?

Next week, competition law specialists will start work looking at whether the plans could mean NHS privatisation.

This is an amazing example of people power in action – we have clubbed together to hire in the experts we need to help us protect our NHS.

The more we raise, the more we can do. More cash will mean we can spread the word about what the legal advice says. We can organise briefing events in Westminster for journalists and MPs. We can get in more experts to draft legal amendments to block threats to our NHS.

We’ve hit our first target – because thousands of us are passionate about doing all we can to protect our health service. Can you chip in more to help the campaign fund grow even bigger? You can make a secure donation here:
https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/nhs-legal-advice

FAQs

How much has been raised so far?
You can see the latest total here: https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/nhs-legal-advice at the time of writing £38,767 by 2470 people. The average donation so far is £15.69. Some 38 Degrees members have chipped in £1, others have chipped in £100. You can chip in whatever you can afford here: https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/nhs-legal-advice

What are our lawyers looking at?

- Will the health minister duck responsibility for our NHS? At the moment the buck stops with the minister, but it’s not clear if the new plans would change that by abolishing the legal “duty to provide” a comprehensive health service. [1]
- Will the new plans mean that private companies can use European competition law to start a gradual break-up of the NHS by making sure that competition on price is what matters – not the quality of the health care patients receive? [2]

When will the results be ready?

We’re working hard to get the legal opinions ready in time for when MPs come back from their summer break on September 5th. We’ll update the blog through August and September.

What are the press saying?
When we hit our first target, the Guardian newspaper reported it as evidence that “the government faces a summer of discontent over its NHS reforms”! Politicians will be watching our campaign fund grow – chip in now to show how determined we are to protect our NHS: https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/nhs-legal-advice

Who will provide the legal opinion?
We’ve teamed up with public interest lawyer Peter Roderick and the group behind dutytoprovide.net to organise a legal team to investigate the “duty to provide”. Harrison Grant solicitors and the barrister Stephen Cragg will lead the investigation. Harrison Grant are experienced in providing legal advice to campaigning groups, charities and NGOs and Stephen Cragg has extensive expertise in health and public law. Once that is finished, we will commission experts to start a similar investigation into competition in the NHS.

How much will it cost?
Legal costs can explode but we’re confident we’re getting a good deal. The £10,000 will enable the experts to start work straight away and should fund their entire investigation. However, if more money is needed or if not all donations are spent all donors will be notified by e-mail. Full details of our donations policy are available on the website here: http://38degrees.org.uk/pages/donations-to-38-degrees

Why not get pro-bono free legal advice?
Because we can’t be sure it will be delivered in time to make a difference. £10,000 is a lot of money. But for this type of legal work it’s cheap and by paying these experts we can make sure it’s delivered quickly.

When will the legal opinions be ready?
Hopefully within the next month – the key deadline is the next set of crunch votes in parliament currently scheduled for early September.

I’m a lawyer – I can help
Great! Please get in touch. You can contact the 38 Degrees office here: http://www.38degrees.org.uk/contact-us

Notes:
[1] Debbie Abrahams MP says, “the duty of the Secretary of State for Health to secure and provide a comprehensive health service – fundamentally, the original duty of the Secretary of State – has not been reinstated in full”, http://www.leftfootforward.org/2011/07/debbie-abrahams-mp-health-and-social-care-bill-recommitted-to-parliament/
The BMA says the government has failed to satisfy their concerns with regard to the duty of the Health Secretary to provide a comprehensive NHS, http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/jun/28/doctors-reject-health-bill-changes Lady Williams tells the NHS Confederation conference that Lib Dems are still concerned about how clear the duty of the Secretary of State for Health to provide a comprehensive NHS is, http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/bdfd6176-a995-11e0-a04a-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1SZCaXasw (subscription needed)
[2] ”The government will open up more than £1bn of NHS services to competition from private companies and charities, the health secretary announced today, increasing fears that it will inevitably lead to the “privatisation of the health service”” says The Guardian, http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/jul/19/nhs-services-open-to-competition?CMP=twt_gu. NHS Bill changes do not alter government plans to hand private firms huge swathes of the NHS, says the Mirror, http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/2011/06/25/andrew-lansley-attacked-for-new-nhs-privatisation-plans-115875-23224692/ Debbie Abrahams MP says that “[opening the NHS up to EU competition law] will only increase income and healthcare inequalities, which are both known to damage economic growth” http://www.leftfootforward.org/2011/07/debbie-abrahams-mp-health-and-social-care-bill-recommitted-to-parliament/

Posted in 38 Degrees Blog Posts

Tags:

NHS: Let’s get to the bottom of Lansley’s Muddle

July 20th, 2011 by

What do Andrew Lansley’s latest plans mean for our NHS? Privatisation by stealth? A slippery slope towards full-blown competition? The end of the health ministers’ “duty to provide” a health service? The truth is it’s murky: his latest NHS proposals are a muddle of over 180 amendments.

Our massive public outcry, along with big concerns from doctors, nurses and other experts, forced the government to pause their original NHS plans. Since then they’ve hastily rewritten big chunks of the legislations, and made all kinds of reassuring statements.

But there’s a risk that behind the warm words, long-term threats to our health service remain. We need to work together to make sure dangerous changes aren’t slipped through in the small print whilst public attention is elsewhere.

If enough of us club together, we can hire independent legal experts to go through Lansley’s plans with a fine toothcomb. We can identify any hidden threats – before it’s too late to stop them.

Can you chip in to fund some urgent independent NHS legal advice? £10,000 will be enough to get a top legal team on the case. Make a secure donation here:
https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/nhs-legal-advice

Experts are warning there are at least two big issues to worry about:

- Will the health minister duck responsiblity for our NHS? At the moment the buck stops with the minister but it’s not clear if the new plans would change that by abolishing the legal ” duty to provide” a comprehensive health service.

- Will the new plans mean that private companies can use European competition law to start a gradual break up of the NHS by making sure that competition on price is what matters – not the quality of the the health care patients receive?

Expert legal advice is the best way for us to get to the bottom of how real these threats are. It will help us make informed choices about the next phase of our campaign. And if big threats come to light, we can organise expert briefings for MPs before the next round of votes.

Help hire a crack legal team to protect our NHS:
https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/nhs-legal-advice

We’ve done so much together in the past few months to protect our NHS. We’ve signed petitions, we’ve emailed and phoned our MPs, we’ve organised local events. We clubbed together to pay for hard hitting adverts in the papers.

Together, we played a key role in stopping the government forcing through their original plans. Now we can work together to make sure the new plans aren’t rushed into law without facing proper scutiny.

£10,000 will be enough to fund a thorough investigation by independent legal experts. Can you make a secure donation now?

FAQ -Frequently asked questions?

Who will provide the legal opinion?
We’ve teamed up with public interest lawyer Peter Roderick and the group behind dutytoprovide.net to organise a legal team to investigate if the “duty to provide”. Harrison Grant solicitors and the barrister Stephen Cragg will lead the investigation. Harrison Grant are experienced in providing legal advice to campaigning groups, charities and NGOs and Stephen Cragg has extensive expertise in health and public law. Once that is finished, we will commission experts to start a similar investigation into competition in the NHS

How much will it cost?
Legal costs can explode but we’re confident we’re getting a good deal. The £10,000 will enable the experts to start work straight away and should fund their entire investigation. However, if more money is needed or if not all donations are spent all donors will be notified by e-mail. Full details of our donations policy are available on the website here: http://38degrees.org.uk/pages/donations-to-38-degrees

Why not get pro-bono free legal advice?
Because we can’t be sure it will be delivered in time to make a difference. £10,000 is a lot of money. But for this type of legal work it’s cheap and by paying these experts we can make sure it’s delivered quickly.

When will the legal opinions be ready?
Hopefully within the next month – the key deadline is the next set of crunch votes in parliament currently scheduled for early September.

I’m a lawyer – I can help
Great! Please get in touch. You can contact the 38 Degrees office here: http://www.38degrees.org.uk/contact-us

Posted in 38 Degrees Blog Posts

Tags:

East Africa crisis – how can we help

July 14th, 2011 by

More than 10 million people are facing starvation due to the severe drought in East Africa.

The BBC reports: “Thousands of families in desperate need of food and water have trekked for days from Somalia to the Dadaab refugee camp in eastern Kenya. The drought is the worst in East Africa for 60 years and the UN described it as a “humanitarian emergency”.

The appeal video

How to donate
You can make a quick online donation here or by calling 0370 60 60 900 (standard geographic charges apply)

Posted in 38 Degrees Blog Posts

Tags: ,