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NHS: Victory!

May 30th, 2013 by

Good news. It looks like we may have nipped it in the bud. Jeremy Hunt has been forced to respond to our 180,000-strong petition. And he’s made a public pledge to “never” introduce a limit on the number of times we’re allowed to visit our GP.

Here’s what he said on twitter in full. He couldn’t resist being rude about us, but it’s still positive news:

On Tuesday, this was a serious Conservative Party policy proposal, being reported in national newspapers.  Now, it’s “never” going to happen.

That’s pretty extraordinary. By working together in big enough numbers, we’ve forced a leading politician to change his tune in just 48 hours. No wonder he doesn’t like us – ordinary people, working together, are limiting his ability to damage our NHS.

This is what 38 Degrees is all about. Jeremy Hunt may grumble. But he knows he can’t afford to ignore us. We’re independent. We move fast. We stick to our principles. And most importantly of all, there are thousands and thousands of us, all over the country.

38 Degrees works because it belongs to all of us. An important part of that is how we’re funded. To stay independent, we will never take cash from government, political parties, or big business. Instead 38 Degrees relies on people-powered donations from thousands of us, contributing whatever we can afford. Our donations policy is available on our website.

Would you consider making a regular donation, to make sure we can keep running campaigns like this one? It’s probably the last thing Jeremy Hunt would like you to do today. But it could be one of the most effective ways of keeping him in check.

Just 2 or 3 pounds a week makes a massive difference. And it only takes a few minutes to set up a direct debit.

The 38 Degrees way of campaigning is extremely good value. We don’t have fancy offices, big bureaucracy, layers of management or marketing departments – just a small committed staff team, lots of volunteers, and an amazing network of over a million 38 Degrees members like you.

It’s good value, but it can’t be done for nothing. More donations would mean we could do even more together – including more work to investigate and tackle threats to our NHS. Whether it’s access to GPs, A&E closures, or privatisation, we need to stay on Jeremy Hunt’s case. So please consider celebrating today’s success by chipping in to fund more work in the future.

Your voices

By the way, here’s how some 38 Degrees members are responding to Jeremy Hunt on Facebook:

Christian Cook: They caused a leak to test the water and were overcome by a tidal wave.

Kit Whitfield Thomas: We believe you, boys. As long as you don’t actually do it, we’re happy to pretend it was all our fault for getting our silly little minds confused. I’ll take insults over expecting poor people to die any day.

Talis Kimberley: Shame he couldn’t set the record straight without a bit of graceless snarking. ‘Neutral’…

Pamela Brooke: “nipped in the bud” then … for me, this was always “just in case they’re serious”

You can also join in the conversation on Facebook.


Posted in Stand up for the NHS

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NHS: What next?

April 29th, 2013 by

Just recently, together we’ve been campaigning against the Section 75 regulations, otherwise known as ‘backdoor privatisation’ of the NHS. Here’s what we did:

  • Over 360, 000 people signed the petition – a huge public showing of opposition to the privatisation of the NHS
  • 38 Degrees members gathered in Norfolk outside the Health Minister Norman Lamb’s constituency office to present him with the petition and voice their concerns about how the regulations might force Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) to privatise the NHS
  • 38 Degrees members funded expert legal advice to scrutinise the regulations. The Department of Health responded to this legal advice. David Lock QC then gave his opinion of this response
  • 38 Degrees members and staff met with Norman Lamb at the Department of Health’s office to discuss the regulations and again show him the public opposition to the regulations. Following the meeting Norman Lamb sent a note to 38 Degrees members.

As a result of all this pressure, we convinced Norman Lamb to withdraw the regulations and re-draft them. A huge victory for people power! While the new regulations aren’t perfect, they are better than the original version.

For the final vote in the House of Lords, the office team sent briefing packs to Lords including details of the petition and the legal advice.

Unfortunately the new regulations were not defeated and are now law. Norman Lamb has promised that the guidance that will accompany the regulations will ensure CCGs that they will be able to keep services in-house if they so wish. Over the next few months, we need to watch carefully to see whether he keeps his word.

So the NHS changes are now in force. But that isn’t the end of the NHS campaign. Over 50,000 38 Degrees members participated in a poll and had their say on the direction of the NHS campaign. The office team are working up plans for how to progress the NHS campaign based on the poll results. We are keeping a close eye on the NHS and will be there to campaign on important NHS issues as they come up.

As 38 Degrees members consistently vote, the NHS is a big priority!

Alongside the national campaigns that the office team sends out, there’s a new campaigning tool that local members have the opportunity to use. There’s a new part of the 38 Degrees site where members can set up and run their own campaigns – it’s called Campaigns by You. It’s there to give members the opportunity to campaign on the many important issues, both local and national, that are too numerous for the the small office team to ever manage alone.

The new site has already produced some amazing wins! Such as stopping a nuclear dump in the Lake District, saving a local community library and protecting local heritage sites. All of these wins have come from 38 Degrees members like yourself setting up their own petitions on the new site!

Now that CCGs have taken over commissioning health care, this new site gives you the opportunity to campaign on local health issues. For example, if there’s unnecessary privatisation of services in your local area, or ambulances overstretched, or hospitals desperately understaffed, or a local A&Es closed, you can now start a petition on it and fight to protect local health services.

The office team have just made a video about the new site, which will give you some more information about what Campaigns By You is all about.

If there’s any issue, NHS-related or not, you’d like to start a campaign on, you now can easily get one up and running. Hopefully this new site gives your local campaign the opportunity to grow and create positive change for your community!


Posted in 38 Degrees Blog Posts, Stand up for the NHS

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NHS poll results

April 12th, 2013 by

Over 50,000 members have now responded to the latest member poll, and the results are now in. The poll asked 38 Degrees members ‘What next for the NHS campaign?’.

With the government’s changes to the NHS recently coming into force, it is an important time for members to decide how to take the NHS campaign forward.

Here are the results of the poll (click on the image for a larger view):

The poll results clearly show that 38 Degrees members remain extremely passionate about protecting the NHS. The office team will now use the answers to the poll to work out the next steps for the NHS campaign.

What do you think of these results? Please share your ideas in the comments section below.

Posted in Stand up for the NHS

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What next for the NHS campaign?

April 9th, 2013 by

Last week, the NHS started to change. The laws which the government pushed through last year came into force. The changes would probably be even more alarming if it wasn’t for all the campaigning we’ve done together. But it’s all still pretty worrying.

With the changes now in force, we need to decide what we want to do next. What’s the priority? How can we best work together to defend the idea of a decent public health service we can rely on to look after us when we need it?

You can help us decide where the NHS campaign goes next. Please take two minutes to vote in a poll.

When the government finally got its changes through last year, 38 Degrees members were disappointed. But we voted to keep the campaign going. And since then, by working together, we’ve made a huge difference:

  • Thousands of 38 Degrees members across the country have asked their local GPs to put patients first and keep the NHS public. We’ve already signed up groups of local GPs in the Midlands, south-west and London.
  • We moved fast when we heard that the government was looking at a new tax dodge for the private health industry. Thousands of us wrote in to complain. The plan was dropped within hours!
  • There’s been big problems with privatised GP out-of-hours care in places like Cornwall. So hundreds of thousands of us demanded an investigation into what happened there. An inquiry has now been launched by the influential Public Accounts Committee of MPs.
  • Just last month, the government announced new rules which could force GPs to hand almost all health contracts to private companies. Over 350,000 of us signed the petition and wrote to our MPs. This helped force the government to withdraw the rules – a big win, though there’s still more to do.

It works because we all work together. So please help decide what we do next by taking the poll.

Should we be focusing on protecting the NHS from budget cuts? Stopping further privatisation? Supporting local campaigns like those against hospital closures? Or making sure that when managers fail to protect patient care, like in Mid Staffs, they’re held properly responsible?

We can do a lot, but we can’t do everything. So please vote!

Posted in 38 Degrees Blog Posts, Stand up for the NHS

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NHS: Local campaign success in Haringey

March 4th, 2013 by

Below is a blog written by David, a 38 Degrees member in Haringey. David and other local 38 Degrees members have recently convinced the Haringey CCG to adopt some important amendments into their constitution that will protect local NHS services from dangerous privatisation. 

On Thursday last week Haringey CCG made public their draft constitution, which included the 38 Degrees amendments on procurement and commissioning virtually word for word. The amendments mean the CCG has to consider whether it is ‘necessary, desirable or appropriate’ to invite competition when purchasing health services.

The victory comes after a couple of months of persistent pressure and lobbying. We first met as a group in early November last year. The turnout at the meeting was a good indication of the strength of feeling in Haringey – over 30 people turned up despite the limited meeting space and we had to be given a larger room. We learnt that 2252 Haringey residents had signed the 38 Degrees petition. We decided that a group of us would present the petition to the Chair of the CCG as soon as they would agree to meet us, which turned out to be the first week of January.

The meeting went well with the CCG Chair, Chief Officer and Lay Representative attending. They told us that as a membership organisation the CCG needed to consult their members, the local GPs, and  their lawyers before making any amendments to the constitution. They said they had to comply with EU competition legislation. Thanks to 38 Degrees, we were able to tell them that they had been produced by public law lawyers and had already been adopted by City & Hackney CCG. They said they would let us know what the outcome was by the end of February.

When they wrote to us following the meeting they were a bit vague about consulting with the GPs, and it turned out that they had finished the consultation with GPs in December. Therefore we felt we had been misled at the meeting. It was difficult to get information out of them so we decided to attend the meeting of CCG board at the end of January and table formal questions about the consultation process. We did a call out to people who attended the initial meeting to support those asking the questions. Again the response was fantastic with over 30 people attending. They had to search the building for more chairs as the six they had provided clearly wasn’t enough.

The meeting wasn’t handled well. We were given written answers to our questions that were then read aloud, and we were not allowed to ask questions to clarify the answers we had just been given. The atmosphere became a little fraught! Those of us there decided we needed to meet again to keep up the pressure on the CCG board. We wrote to all the GPs in Haringey, we contacted the local press, we contacted local counsellors on the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, we contacted our local MP, and planned a public meeting.

We were supported in our campaign by our local health anti-privatisation group Defend Haringey Health Services. They had done a lot of work last year trying to get the CCG to sign up to a pledge to resist the top down imposition of Any Qualified Provider. They had connections to other local anti-cuts and anti-privatisation groups which helped build support for the amendments.

The constitution is still in draft form and will be formally adopted at the next meeting of the CCG board on the 14th March, which will be at the West Green Learning Centre at 1.30pm. We’ll be encouraging everybody involved in the campaign to attend to witness the CCG taking this bold step.

We are planning to go ahead with our public meeting and we’ve invited a representative of the CCG to talk about the constitution and their Patient and Public Engagement Strategy. We want to have an impact on the way health services are commissioned and provided in Haringey in the future, and the adoption of the 38 Degrees commissioning amendments by the CCG is a good start! The recent news about the coalition trying to sneak through the Section 75 legislations that will force CCGs to put contracts out to tender means that we need to keep campaigning. Sign the petition here.

If you’d like to be involved in the local NHS campaign in Haringey please do get in touch - haringey38degrees@gmail.com



Posted in 38 Degrees Blog Posts

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Support for 38 Degrees from other MPs

December 1st, 2011 by

Following Simon Burns’ comments about 38 Degrees members in Parliament last week, other MPs have been commenting. Thankfully they don’t all seem to feel comfortable comparing their voters to zombies! Below is what they’ve had to say.

Fiona Bruce MP, Conservative MP for Congleton, said: “I haven’t heard the exact words [of Simon Burns] but can assure you that I think 38 Degrees does a service in enabling constituents to contact their MPs , so that we really know how people are feeling about issues; such communications are critical for me….. So keep communicating – only then can we together effect positive change!”

Tim Farron MP, MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale and President of the Liberal Democrats, said: “I don’t think 38 Degrees members, or anyone else who takes the trouble to contact me, is a zombie. It’s a totally inappropriate way for an elected politician to talk about their voters. We should be encouraging people to get involved in the political process not insulting those who do.”

Stella Creasy MP, Labour MP for Walthamstow, said: “Campaigning organisations like 38 Degrees are playing a useful role in energising Britain’s political process by encouraging the public to engage with their MPs – it’s up to us to then develop the debate and discussion they start with those we represent, either online or offline and whether we agree with them or not. Rather than calling people zombies and dismissing their concerns, ministers may wish to reflect on why their healthcare proposals have generated such a strong response from their constituents.”

Natascha Engel MP, Labour MP for North East Derbyshire and chair of the Backbench Business Committee, said: “When voters take the trouble to contact their MP, we should be welcoming that and encouraging them to engage further. We certainly shouldn’t be calling them names. I’ve engaged with 38 degrees members in my constituency and they certainly don’t seem like zombies to me.”

What do you think about what these MPs have said? Have you heard from other MPs about what they think about Simon Burns’ comments? Share your thoughts below.

Posted in 38 Degrees Blog Posts

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November 16th, 2011 by

What’s he trying to hide? For a year health minister Andrew Lansley has been refusing to publish a civil service report on the risks he’s taking with the NHS. Now the Information Commissioner has ordered him to publish it. But he could still keep it hidden for another month – until after more key votes have taken place.

We can’t afford to wait that long. The House of Lords is debating the NHS plans right now. If the report on risks to the NHS is released immediately, it could persuade key members of the House of Lords to stand up to the government.

Pressure from MPs could force Lansley to publish this report. If enough of us contact them now, we can get it out in the open before it’s too late. MPs won’t want to find themselves back under fire because of Lansley’s cover-up. So let’s all email our MPs now and tell them they have to force Lansley to publish his secret NHS risks report.

The Information Commissioner’s ruling lists Andrew Lansley’s arguments for why he wants this report kept secret. Lansley argued that releasing the report “would have jeopardised the success of the policy”! He’s kept us, MPs, and members of the Lords in the dark deliberately because he’s worried that making these risks public could derail his plans.

The NHS belongs to all of us. We all pay for it, and we all rely on it to care for us and our loved ones. We don’t want it put at risk – that’s exactly why we’ve been campaigning together all these months. We have a right to see what this report says.

Let’s raise an uproar in Parliament and force Lansley’s hand. Email your MP now and tell them to demand this secret NHS report is made public immediately.

Posted in 38 Degrees Blog Posts

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Delivering our Robin Hood Tax message

November 2nd, 2011 by

38 Degrees with Bob Russel, MP for Colchester, outside Parliament this morning

This morning, 38 Degrees volunteers went down to Westminster to deliver the petition on calling for a Robin Hood Tax, and take our message to MPs as they arrived at work. Alongside volunteers from Oxfam, Save the Children and lots of other organisations, we spent over an hour outside Parliament.

We caught lots of MPs on their way into the Houses of Parliament and asked them to put pressure on David Cameron before he leaves for the world leaders’ G20 meeting tomorrow. And at least one of them did: Caroline Lucas asked David Cameron in Prime Minister’s Questions if he would listen to the protesters outside parliament and the 80,000 people (including over 15,000 38 Degrees members) who have signed the petition asking him to back the Robin Hood Tax at the global meeting.

What will David Cameron do this week? Will he listen to the bankers and vote against putting the brakes on banks? Or will he back a tax to help fight poverty, combat climate change and protect public services, schools and hospitals? There’ll be more news from the G20 talks in France coming soon on the 38 Degrees blog.

Posted in 38 Degrees Blog Posts

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Save our countryside petition hand-in

October 17th, 2011 by

38 degrees staff and volunteers handing in the petition at 10 Downing Street

Photograph by 38 Degrees

This morning a small delegation representing a huge number of 38 Degrees members were at 10 Downing Street to hand in the Save our countryside petition. In under four weeks, more than 100,000 38 Degrees members who don’t want to see their countryside overrun with bulldozers have come together to sign the petition.

Here are just a few comments 38 Degrees members made on the petition:

  • “Builders have lots of sites that are mothballed and others with planning permission already.Who is this change to benefit……” Chris
  • “I support new home development, but it needs to be built in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way. We need to protect our countryside.” Nicholas
  • “This is a disgraceful attempt to demolish local checks and balances in favour of wealthy opportunists.” Graham
  • “We can’t keep using up countryside. We must increasingly look at redeveloping old urban land. Yes it’s more expensive, but it’s so short sighted to leave ruined old urban land, sometimes not even used, and build over green because it’s cheap and easy.” Joe

Today the government shut the door on its ‘consultation’ process, their way of reviewing how planning decisions are made. Here’s a blog from a few weeks ago.

The petition delivery to Number 10 was timed so that the views of over 100,000 38 Degrees members would be seen by the government as they make up their mind what to do next and ensure they put our interests ahead of lobbyists from the construction industry.

When we work together we can win. 38 Degrees members had a big impact when we came together to save our forests earlier this year. Now, tens of thousands of us are doing the same to protect our countryside.

Today’s hand-in marked a milestone in the campaign but it’s far from over. The government’s plans are still on the table. The National Trust, the Woodland Trust and Friends of the Earth still remain greatly concerned with the implications of the NPPF.

The petition, signed by over 100,000 of us so far, will send a loud message to the government demanding they provide real protection for our beautiful green land and countryside that all of us cherish.

If you haven’t signed the petition you can do so here, then send it to your friends and family.

Posted in 38 Degrees Blog Posts

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Save our Countryside – update

October 9th, 2011 by

Pic of countryside in danger

The clock is ticking. The government shuts its consultation on proposed changes to the planning system in just over a week.

Almost 100,000 38 Degrees members have signed the petition against the proposed planning changes. The more of us who sign the petition the more likely we are to change the government’s mind.

Here are some of the things journalists, experts and organisations such as the National Trust have been saying abou the government’s plans:

The chief executive of the National Housing Federation says: ‘there are serious dangers that these changes could let private developers off the hook in terms of delivering thousands of affordable homes on their developments.’

The new planning rules will scrap “section 106″ agreements which provide half the 50,000 affordable new homes” according to Michael White.

The main cause of the housing crisis isn’t planning, it’s ‘the lack of money – thanks in no small part to the government’s decision to cut the affordable housing budget by 60%’ argues Caroline Lucas MP.

The National Trust has set out 10 ‘asks’ of the government on how the NPPF should be amended. These include:

  • The NPPF should adopt an explicit ‘brownfield first’ approach
  • It is fundamentally wrong that neighbourhood plans should be led and funded by business
  • The NPPF needs clarification of how planning should promote genuinely, robustly defined, sustainable development

George Monbiot, the Guardian journalist, points out “the framework’s new presumption in favour of sustainable development – by which the government means all development except coal-mining – will make it almost impossible to resist a developer’s proposal. It takes a system that is already unfair, unbalanced and undemocratic and makes it even worse”.

Under pressure from opponents of the planning reforms (including tens of thousands of 38 Degrees members), the planning minister Greg Clark has admitted that the proposals in the NPPF on brownfield land, housing targets and “sustainable development” could have been clearer.

The consultation period ends in just over a week – let’s keep up the pressure. If we work together to get more people involved in the campaign and more signatures on our petition, we can stop the government’s plans to sell off our countryside just as 38 Degrees members stopped them selling off our forests!

Please add your name to the petition, it only takes a minute, and then share this page with a friend:


Posted in 38 Degrees Blog Posts