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Posts Tagged ‘hospital closure clause’

What did 38 degrees achieve in the hospital closure clause campaign?

June 17th, 2014 by

This article looks back at the recent “hospital closure clause” campaign and tries to take a dispassionate look at the issues and examine the likely effects of the government climbdown on clause 119 (or was it clause 118 because it kept changing).

The central problem the present government faced – and which previous governments faced – was how to manage change in the way NHS hospitals operate without major public opposition?   Amongst all of our public services, NHS hospitals are the services that the public prizes the highest.  In the perception of public importance hospitals come above schools, social care support, roads, leisure centres and community centres.  Nothing brings a community to the streets quicker than a threat to services at their local hospital.  One sniff of unwanted changes in your local hospital and the streets are thronged with angry, banner waving local people who are being whipped up in their indignation by elected and wannabe local politicians.  Making changes to our hospitals is one argument every elected politician wants to avoid or cannot be seen to support.

But changes to the configuration of hospitals has happened since the NHS was created in 1948.  There is a wide and growing professional consensus across those who understand the complexities of NHS patient outcome data that pretty radical change to the way that our hospitals work is needed to save lives and improve services to patients.

But, and it is a bit “but”, it is often only a professional consensus.   Change in the NHS cannot properly be managed only with a professional consensus.  That leaves out the people who are most important of all – the patients – out of the loop.   It is an inconvenient truth for NHS decision makers that patients pay the bills through their taxes, elect the politicians who make the laws under which the NHS operates and are the only reason hospitals exist.  Patients are the most important people in any decision making process.  There was a famous “Yes Minister” episode about a new hospital that won every award going for cleanliness, staff morale and efficiency but, one year on, had yet to admit a single patient.  Sir Humphrey urged the Minister to be proud of the hospital.  When Hacker expressed some reservations Sir H explained in his “let me say this once and I hope you will understand Minister” voice that the hospital functioned so much better without patients.  That was a caricature but, like all caricatures, it had a sardonic element of truth.

My impression (through political experience and when assisting NHS bodies with change processes) is that, for far too long, the NHS has defaulted to managing these hugely complex change processes by seeking to establish a professional consensus in favour of changes and as a last step, once the plans are all but agreed, going through a notional “consultation” process with patients and the public.  This is perhaps seen most acutely where the driving force behind change is a lack of money for an NHS body or having to make up for bad NHS management over an extended period.

The hospital closure clause campaign brought these arguments into sharp focus.  The government wanted to give powers to a Trust Special Administrator (a “TSA”) – something like a liquidator of an NHS trust – to reorganise health services across a series of hospitals belonging to different NHS Trusts if the TSA though this was needed to sort out the financial problems at a single Trust that was in financial difficulty.  The Health and Social Care Act 2012 gave a de facto veto on change at a hospital that was under the TSA’s control to the commissioners of NHS care at the Trust in difficulty.  “Commissioners” are Clinical Commissioning Groups (“CCGs”), mainly consisting of GPs, that have the power to decide what NHS services an NHS Trust should deliver for the local patient population.

However CCGs are accountable to the public and cannot make commissioning decisions without public and patient involvement.  CCGs have comprehensive legal duties to involve patients and the local public in their decision making and so a CCG could not make decisions about whether to approve scaling back or closure of an A & E or obstetric unit at a local hospital without involving patients and the local public in that decision making process.  So giving a de facto veto to local commissioners meant that patients and the local public would get a key say in these decisions.  The public might not agree with the outcome but at least they would be properly involved at an early stage and the CCG had to ensure they listened and responded before key decisions were made.

The next stage in the story is that the government lost the legal case brought by the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign, which was supported financially by 38 degree members.  The courts held that the TSA regime gave powers to a TSA to make changes at a hospital trust to which he had been appointed but had no power to impose change on NHS hospitals run by neighbouring trusts. That stopped a TSA using the Trust Special Administration process as the basis for imposing wide scale changes to hospital services across an area in order to try to solve far greater problems than the insolvency of a single NHS trust.

The government wanted to remove that limitation by legislation and so introduced amendments to the Care Bill to widen the powers of a TSA.  However the problem 38 degrees identified was the changes that the government proposals kept the veto for the commissioners of services at the troubled trust but did not give any decision making powers to commissioners of services at other hospitals where changes were being forced through as a result of the TSA process.  Unless NHS commissioners were decision makers about proposed changes at their local hospitals, there was no process for the commissioners to involve patients and the public in this decision making (because they were not making any decisions).

So the original proposals meant that a hospital manager from another area or even a private sector accountant could close down a perfectly viable NHS Accident and Emergency Unit, scale back a popular consultant led obstetric unit or close a properly functioning hospital in order to drive patients to a hospital that was in financial trouble in the neighbouring borough in the teeth of opposition from the hospital doctors, local NHS commissioners and with only the bare minimum of public and patient consultation.    This was like giving a liquidator of an under-performing supermarket the right to close down a more popular competitor supermarket in order to improve the prospects of the supermarket which had got itself into trouble.

38 degrees pointed out that hospitals were not supermarkets and changes ought only to be made after the public was fully involved in decision making.  That objective could only be achieved by making the local NHS commissioners decision makers about what services should stay or were up for possible change at local hospitals.  Giving commissioners that role would mean that CCGs had to work hard to involve patients and the public in these decisions before they were made.

The campaign was ultimately successful because, towards the end of the parliamentary process, the government accepted the principle that all NHS commissioners who were affected by changes in their local hospitals should have the same de facto as commissioners of services at the troubled trust.  The government introduced a clause which had the same effect as the 38 degrees clause introduced by Paul Burstow MP which gave parity to the decision making positions of commissioners of the affected Trust and any other Trust whose services may be affected by changes proposed by a TSA.

In practice this means that a TSA will not be able to use his appointment as a fig leaf to drive through unpopular changes to NHS hospital services in an area against the wishes to local NHS commissioners.  However the big win in this scheme is that, before any changes are agreed to by NHS commissioners at a local hospital, the commissioners will have to undergo a thorough and meaningful engagement exercise with patients and the public.  So the commissioners will have a duty to explain why changes at a local hospital might be acceptable, test the proposals from the perspectives of patients and the public and take full account of patient and public views before any decisions are made.  This might make clinically driven change slightly slower in the NHS in future, but it will happen with patients and the public being fully informed and involved at an early stage as opposed to being “consulted” when all the key decisions have already been made in meetings of professionals where the public are excluded.  It should mean that NHS administrators and clinicians who support changes to NHS services will have to work harder to explain why they support changes to these important public services and hence take the public with them.  It should mean that there is a greater chance that clinically necessary change to NHS hospitals is managed consensually with the public rather than in the face of determined public opposition.

38 degree members can feel proud of the changes they help bring about.  They achieved a small but significant step on the road to making NHS decision making more accountable to patients and the public.

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David Lock QC, who was MP for Wyre Forest (Kidderminster) from 1997 to 2001. He was counsel for the Campaign in the Lewisham Hospital case in the High Court and Court of Appeal and was instructed by 38 Degrees to draft amendments to the Care Bill. These are his personal views.

This article was written because some 38 Degrees members were asking for more details about what we achieved with the Hospital Closure Clause campaign. Please comment below with your thoughts.

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Hospital closure clause: we did it!

May 7th, 2014 by

Some very, very good news. We did it! The government has accepted our amendment to the hospital closure clause in the House of Lords.

Without our amendment the hospital closure clause would have given the government new powers to close any hospital in England, even if local doctors were against it.

The clause was voted for by MPs back in March after the government made some concessions. Their changes didn’t go far enough, but it seemed like the government wouldn’t budge any further.

The clause was due to be passed today. So the government’s decision to accept – almost word for word – the changes proposed by lawyers funded by 38 Degrees members came right down to the wire – and it was a big surprise.

Our people powered pressure worked and our hospitals are now safer. Thank you for everything you’ve done to make this happen. Hurrah!

David Lock QC, an NHS expert lawyer, has checked the Government’s changes and here’s what he said:
“This is a very satisfying outcome. It recognises the compelling logic of the position taken by 38 Degrees members.”

38 Degrees members, alongside others like the Save the Lewisham Hospital Campaign, have been campaigning on this for months:

- Over 150,000 of us signed a petition calling for the plans to be scrapped
- After meeting with 38 Degrees members, Lib Dem MP and ex-health minister Paul Burstow tabled amendments to the clause. The government, fearing a rebellion from within its own ranks, made some concessions but they didn’t go far enough.
- The campaign then moved to the House of Lords. Baroness Finlay, a well-respected doctor and influential crossbench peer, led the charge. 38 Degrees members funded briefings and advice from legal heavyweights and we wrote to peers.

In the end, everything we did together (alongside other campaigners and parliamentarians like Baroness Finlay, Paul Burstow MP, Andy Burnham MP) worked. The government has made the changes that they needed to.

Regardless of what happened today, we’ve still got a huge amount to do to protect our NHS. But wins like this, especially on the NHS, don’t come along that often. Today gives us more proof that when we work together, we can achieve great things, and make the government sit up and listen. So for today, let’s celebrate.

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Hospital Closure Clause: contact a peer

April 28th, 2014 by

Thank you so much for agreeing to contact a Lord you know. Here’s a little bit more information, if you need it, about how to get in touch with them.

There are a few ways you could get in touch:

- Phone them:
Getting a phone call from someone they know will really make Lords think twice about voting for the hospital closure clause. It is likely to be the most effective way to encourage them to support Baroness Finlay’s amendment.
If you don’t already have their telephone number, you can ring the House of Lords Switchboard on 020 7219 3000 and ask for it.

- Write them a letter:
Lords might not check their emails every day, so sending a letter in the post might be a better way to make sure they hear your thoughts.
If you don’t have their home address, you can write to them at: The House of Lords, London, SW1A 0PW.

- Email them:
This is the quickest option, and is still going to have an impact. Click here to find a Lord’s email address.

Here’s a few pointers about what to say:

  • The most important thing is to ask them to support Baroness Finlay’s amendment to clause 119 of the Care Bill. It’s Amendment 43A.
  • Tell them why you think the hospital closure clause is dangerous for our NHS.

Here’s some more information about Clause 119:

What is clause 119?
Clause 119 of the Care Bill has been dubbed by many as the ‘hospital closure clause’. It was brought forward by the government after judges ruled that Ministers acted illegally by trying to cut emergency and maternity services at Lewisham Hospital.

The Lewisham example:
The attempt to cut services at Lewisham came after the neighbouring South London Healthcare Trust went into administration. Campaigners successfully argued that according to the law, a well-performing and popular local hospital should not be made to pay for the price for failings elsewhere. A judicial review and subsequent government high court appeal both ruled in the campaigners’ favour and against the government.

What is in the clause?
Clause 119, as it was first proposed, aimed to makes changes to the Trust Special Administration (TSA) process which is used when an NHS Trust gets into serious financial difficulty. The Government is entitled to appoint an administrator, the TSA, to take over the Trust and produce a report recommending changes to local NHS services.

Under the current regime – as proved by the Lewisham legal appeal – the TSA is only supposed to recommend changes to a Trust in administration.

Clause 119 would give the TSA extensive powers over any other hospital that was linked to the financial problems of the Trust which is in financial difficulty. This means that NHS services could be subject to widespread reconfiguration by the back door, without the support of the local Clinical Commission Group (CCG) and without proper public consultation.

There is a danger that the Government could use these new powers to change or cut services at NHS hospitals without local people or doctors having a proper say. This runs contrary to their intentions as set out in the Health and Social Care Act.

The amendment:
Paul Burstow MP tabled an amendment to clause 119 as it passed through the House of Commons. This amendment aimed to improve the clause, and was drafted by lawyers funded by 38 Degrees members.

The Government was faced with a rebellion when the clause was considered in the House of Commons. They made a series of concessions. Whilst welcomed, these changes do not go far enough, as explained below.

Baroness Finlay of Llandaff’s amendment is similar to the Burstow amendment. He has said he supports her tabling it as he has ‘not yet been fully satisfied’ by Ministers’ actions following the government’s concessions.

  • Tell them why you think it is important that the clause is amended. Do you have any personal experiences of your local hospital you could share?
  • You could also encourage them to go to the meeting with Baroness Finlay to hear more about Amendment 43 A. It’s at 4.30pm on Tuesday 6th May in Residents Room 1, the House of Lords.

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Hospital Closure Clause: briefing for Lords

April 25th, 2014 by

Baroness Finlay, a well-respected crossbench peer and doctor, has proposed an amendment to “clause 119” of the Care Bill. If enough Lords support her amendment, then it could be enough to stop Jeremy Hunt’s dangerous hospital closure clause from becoming law.

Earlier this week, 38 Degrees members chipped in enough money to fund a briefing which every Lord will receive. They’ll also be invited to a meeting where Baroness Finlay, along with legal experts, which will make the case for the amendment.

You can read the full briefing here: Download File

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The Finlay amendment to the Care Bill

April 22nd, 2014 by

Baroness Finlay, an influential Crossbench peer has scheduled the following amendment to the Care Bill in the House of Lords:

Lady Finlay to move, that this House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments 40 to 43 and do propose Amendment 41A in consequence thereof:

1.      In section 65DA(1) of the National Health Service Act 2006 (Chapter 5A of Part 2: Objective of trust special administration) omit “objective” and insert “objectives” and omit “is” and insert “are.

2.      After subsection (1)(a) insert—

“(b) the continued provision of such of the services provided for the purposes of the NHS by any affected trust at such level, as the commissioners of those services determine”

3.                  After subsection 1(b) omit “(b)” and insert “(c)”.

4.                  In subsection (2) of that section after “The commissioners” insert “of the trust in special administration and any affected trust”.

5.                  In subsection (4) of that section after “the commissioners” add “of the trust in special administration and any affected trust”.

6.                  In subsection (9) of that section after ““commissioners” means the persons to which the trust provides services under this Act” add “and the commissioners of services at any affected trust”.

7.                  In section 65F insert—

“(2E) Where the administrator is considering recommending taking action in relation to another NHS foundation trust or an NHS trust which may become an affected trust, the administrator shall engage with the commissioners of services at any such NHS foundation trust or NHS trust in order to enable those commissioners to make decisions pursuant to the matters set out in section 65DA”

8.                  In section 65I(1)—

a.           after “action which the administrator recommends that the Secretary of State” insert “or the commissioners of any affected trust”; and

b.           after “should take in relation to the trust” insert “or any affected trust”

9.                  In section 65K add—

“(3) Where the final report contains recommendations for changes to be made to services provided by an affected trust, the commissioners of services at that affected trust shall make a decision within 20 working days whether they wish to undertake public and patient involvement regarding all or any of the recommendations and, if they are so minded, shall comply with any arrangements for patient and public involvement agreed by those commissioners under this Act before making any final decision concerning the said recommendations.”.

10.              In section 65KA add—

“(7) Where the final report contains recommendations for changes to be made to services provided by an affected trust, the commissioners of those services shall make a decision within 20 working days whether they wish to undertake public and patient involvement regarding all or any of the recommendations and, if they are so minded, shall comply with any arrangements for patient and public involvement agreed by those commissioners under this Act before making any final decision concerning the said recommendations”

11.              In section 65KB(1)(d) after “that” insert “to the extent that the report recommends action in relation to the trust in administration”.

12.              In section 65KB(2)(a) after “decision” insert “in relation to any recommendations made the in relation to the trust in administration”.

13.              In section 65O add—

“(4) In this chapter “affected trust” means—

(a) where the trust in question is an NHS trust, another NHS trust, or an NHS foundation trust, which provides goods or services under this Act that would be affected by the action recommended in the draft report; and

(b) where the trust in question is an NHS foundation trust, another NHS foundation trust, or an NHS trust, which provides services under this Act that would be affected by the action recommended in the draft report.

14.              In section 13Q(4) at the end insert “save to the extent required by section 65K(3) or 65KA(7)”.

15.              In section 14Z2(7) at the end insert “save to the extent required by section 65K(3) or 65KA(7)”.

16.              In section 242(6)(b) at the end insert “save to the extent required by section 65K(3) or 65KA(7)”.

 

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Poll Results: Hospital Closure Clause

April 10th, 2014 by

It’s been a few weeks since MPs debated the hospital closure clause. Here’s a quick recap of what happened: Lib Dem MP and former health minister Paul Burstow tabled an amendment which aimed to remove the worst parts of the clause. The amendment was drafted by lawyers funded by 38 Degrees members. But Burstow decided to withdraw his support for the amendment at the last minute after the government offered some concessions.

Since then, the 38 Degrees office team have been speaking to experts to decide how meaningful the government concessions were, and whether Paul Burstow was right not to push for a vote. And it’s worrying news. The government’s concessions did not go far enough.

They committed to consult local people about any proposed hospital closures. They also said that local doctors should be consulted. But lawyers have said that while some of the concessions are a step forward, our hospitals still aren’t safe.

It’s disappointing that we didn’t make as much progress as we hoped. But the hospital closure clause is not law yet. It returns to the House of Lords on the 7th May. So, last week, 38 Degrees members voted to decide our next move.

The results are in! 38 Degrees members have decided that we want to keep campaigning on this issue, and to shout about the fact that no hospital will be safe under the current proposed bill. (The red shows 38 Degrees members who ranked it as their top priority, and green and dark blue show members who support it as an option, and light blue are those who want to stop campaigning on this issue).


So, it looks like we’ll be keeping on campaigning. Watch this space for our next move… more information in the next couple of days.

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NHS Hospital Closure clause: update

March 12th, 2014 by

Yesterday, MPs debated the hospital closure clause. Here’s a quick update:



Paul Burstow MP – the Lib Dem who tabled the amendment which 38 Degrees members got behind – decided to drop his amendment before it came to a vote. He said he was doing this because the government had promised changes which addressed his concerns.

At first glance it seems that the government did make some positive changes. The challenge is working out whether they go far enough. The office team has asked legal experts to look at them.

Firstly, the government pledged that people will be consulted before any changes are made to their local hospital. Secondly, the government agreed that local doctors who commission health services will have a say on any changes made in their area.



Paul Burstow MP has written an article explaining why he thinks 38 Degrees members should be pleased with what we’ve achieved, it’s pasted into the previous blog post.

 Jamie Reed MP, the Labour shadow minister who also signed Burstow’s amendment, thinks Burstow was wrong to withdraw it – he’s also going to write an article explaining why the government’s promises aren’t good enough.



So it’s a bit murky right now. It looks like we probably got some, but not all, of what we wanted. The question is how much – and how safe will that leave our local hospitals? 38 Degrees members will get the verdict from the legal experts as soon as it’s in.



Right now, though, there is one thing we can be certain of: the difference 38 Degrees members made to the debate. Our people-powered petition was referred to several times. Lots of MPs mentioned the many emails they’d received from constituents. And more than that, the amendment that Paul Burstow tabled was drafted by lawyers paid for by donations from 38 Degrees members.



The government probably wouldn’t have made any changes at all without 38 Degrees members, and the pressure we put on our MPs. 



It’s complicated stuff, but here’s a bit more detail about what the government said yesterday:


- they agreed that any plan to close a hospital has to have the agreement of all local doctors on clinical commissioning groups in any area affected.


- they confirmed that the procedure that allows the government to appoint a Trust Special Administrator (TSA) when NHS Trust gets into serious financial difficulty will only be used in extreme circumstances.


- they agreed that when these decisions are being made, the Trust Special Administrator will consult local communities, through Healthwatch, and consult with the local authority.


- they have appointed Paul Burstow MP to chair a committee of MPs and Lords to make sure that our concerns are properly addressed through guidance that explains how the law can be applied.

Please comment below with your thoughts.

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Hospital Closure Clause: what do you think?

March 11th, 2014 by

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.

And here’s a response from Jamie Reed MP, Shadow Health Minister:

I read Paul Burstow’s blog to 38 degrees members and to give him credit he was right about one thing – the amendment certainly got Ministers’ attention. So much so I had Tory MPs coming up to me last night saying that George Osborne was dragged in at the last minute to heed off any potential rebellion in the Commons.

Looking at the voting figures, the real tragedy is that if Paul had pushed our amendment to a vote, and brought with him the Lib-Dems, we could have won that vote last night. Instead only one Lib-Dem ended up voting for Paul Burstow’s amendment. And it wasn’t Paul Burstow.

The truth is no meaningful improvements to the hospital closure clause have been secured and it would be delusional to believe that they had.

But let’s have a look at the “important concessions” the Lib-Dems claim they won.

The first concession is a new job for Paul chairing a committee of MPs and Lords which will look at the guidance on how the legislation will be used in future. I’m not holding my breath.

The second concession is that Healthwatch will have a say in any decisions made. That’s the same Healthwatch who under the Health and Social Care Act is barred from criticising Government policy. And that’s the same Healthwatch who has just had its funding cut by £10m.

The final concession is that the Trust Special Administrator will now have to ‘consult’ with NHS staff affected by the changes, but crucially they will be under no obligation to take their advice, and, unbelievably, they will not be required to consult with local people.

I’m afraid Paul has sold out thousands of people who signed the 38 Degrees petition for some pretty meaningless public relations designed to let Jeremy Hunt get his way and save the face of the Lib-Dems.

We knew this was always likely to be the case.

The truth is that – from the widely hated Heath & Social Care Act onwards – the Lib-Dems have enabled the Conservative Party’s vandalism of the NHS. 38 Degrees members came under attack from Conservative MPs during yesterday’s debate – and not for the first time. Let’s not forget it was your donations that paid for the legal advice that drafted the amendment that Paul refused to push to a vote.

Instead it was left to Labour to ensure that the voices of the 159,000 petition signatories – and millions more in the country at large – were heard in Parliament.

Reading Paul’s justification for his actions, I was reminded of Ricky Gervais’ David Brent character breaking the news of redundancies to his staff after promising them there would be none: “The bad news is there will be redundancies. The good news is, I’ve been promoted…”

But it’s not all bad news. It turns out that the job offered to Paul in the chamber of the House of Commons in return for not moving the amendment is not remunerated. That’s bad luck – at least Judas was paid.

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Roundup of what 38 Degrees members have done to scrap the Hospital Closure Clause

March 11th, 2014 by

MPs are set to vote on the crucial amendment which would scrap the Hospital Closure Clause and replace the clause with new wording at 6pm this evening.  The vote is on a knife’s edge and the media are reporting a growing rebellion from coalition MPs.

In the meantime, here’s a quick roundup of what 38 Degrees members have done to get us this far:

Nov 2013: 38 Degrees member, GP and chair of the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign, Louise Irvine, launches a petition on Campaigns By You calling on Jeremy Hunt to axe the Hospital Closure Clause. It gets over 100,000 signatures in a couple of days.

23rd Feb 2014: 38 Degrees members vote overwhelmingly to launch a massive campaign to stop the Hospital Closure Clause.

26th Feb 2014: The huge people powered petition to scrap the Hospital closure clause is launched, it gathers 100,000 signatures in less than 24 hours!

27th Feb 2014: Campaigners gather outside Downing Street to hand in Campaigns By You petition.

March 1st 2014: 38 Degrees members and local hospital campaigners meet their local Lib Dem MP and ex health minister, Paul Burstow. They leave him in no doubt that they want him to do everything in their power to scrap the hospital closure clause. To find out more about what happened in the meeting click here. 

March 3rd 2014: Award winning filmmakers worked at break-neck speed to pull together a hard-hitting video about the hospital closure clause. The video was paid for by donations from 38 Degrees members. Thousands of people shared it and watched it. The aim was to show just why Jeremy Hunt’s plans needed to be stopped.

Here’s the link to the video.

March 4th 2014: The lawyers who represented the Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign drafted amendments to Clause 119, paid for by donations from 38 Degrees members, which Paul Burstow MP tables.

March 7th 2014: Tens of thousands of 38 Degrees members email their MPs asking them to support the Burstow amendment.

March 7th: Local hospital campaigners across the country got in touch with their MPs and local press about the hospital closure clause to ramp up the pressure locally. Special mention to REACH and Save the Alex campaign, who even made the Today programme.

March 10th 2014: Thousands of 38 Degrees members phone their MPs asking them to support the Paul Burstow amendments.

March 10th 2014: Our massive people powered petition is handed in to Paul Burstow MP, who presents it at the debate.

March 11th 2014:  Thousands of 38 Degrees members tweet their MPs asking them to support the Burstow papers.

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NHS: tweet MPs about the Hospital Closure Clause

March 11th, 2014 by

NHS - Locked gates image

Urgent: Today MPs will vote on the hospital closure clause. They have a choice. They could vote the law through, making it dangerously easy for the government to close our local hospitals without any real consultation.

Or, they can scrap the hospital closure clause and make sure that local people and doctors are properly involved in any decisions about changes to hospitals. All they’d need to do is vote for changes to the law laid down by Paul Burstow MP, amendment NC16.

We only have hours left before MPs start voting. And the one thing MPs always have with them is their phone. Let’s keep the pressure up until the last minute via Twitter.

Can you tweet your MP now? It takes 30 seconds and you’ll find some suggested text. Click here.

Support for the amendment is snowballing. More and more MPs – including Conservative and Liberal Democrats – are signing up to the amendment. That’s down to everything 38 Degrees members have done together.

Over the last three weeks 38 Degrees members have built a 180,000-strong petition, sent over 80,000 emails to their MPs and placed hundreds of calls to MPs’ offices. There are signs that a rebellion against the government’s plans is growing, but the parliamentary maths is still tight.

Lots of MPs could still go either way – so let’s give them a nudge in the right direction. Every time they glance down at their phones, they need to see more of us asking them to vote for the amendment.

Amendment NC16 will see off a huge threat to our local hospitals. MPs need to vote for it today.

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