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Posts Tagged ‘Save our NHS’

Is our NHS in Wales in crisis?

October 22nd, 2014 by

Over the last few months, stories about the state of healthcare in Wales have been bubbling up. Welsh hospitals have the worst waiting times in the UK, the care of elderly patients is poor, and people are heading to England just for treatment. These are a few of the shocking claims reported by the media.

Just last week, there were renewed calls for a public enquiry into NHS Wales. And today, there’s news that Unison’s NHS workers in Wales have voted to strike over pay. On face-value, it looks like we could be on the verge of a crisis. But is this true?

200 38 Degrees members in Wales have shared their thoughts by filling in a short survey. If you live in Wales, please could you share your thoughts too? Click here to take the survey.

So far, it’s pretty split. Many people have said that our NHS is in crisis – but haven’t had a bad experience themselves. The feeling is that this is due to lack of funding and creeping privatisation – decisions made at the top – rather than bad nurses and doctors.

38 Degrees members have picked out some particular services which are in crisis: A&E, GP surgeries, maternity, mental health and elderly care.

There’s also been a lot of love for the NHS in Wales in the comments. Cristina says “Since moving to Wales, I have received some of the best NHS care in my life. I have been promptly seen, treated with respect. I can only offer my sincere thanks and admiration to all concerned.”

Together, we decide what to campaign on. So please click here to take the survey and have your voice heard.


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Your medical records

October 14th, 2014 by

The government are planning to sneak through the plan that would allow private companies to buy our personal medical data. But together we could stop it.

The scheme’s called Care.data. 38 Degrees members helped block it a few months ago. But now NHS managers are trying again to push through the same, pro-privatisation plan. They’ve not addressed any of the concerns about privatisation. Instead they’re hoping to dodge public concern by doing a stealth roll-out, a few areas at a time.

To stop these plans again, a huge number of us would need to join together. So should we launch a campaign to stop our health data falling into private hands? Click here to vote:

But sadly the current plan offers this valuable data to corporations. That’s a breach of our privacy – private companies could see mental health treatments, if we had cancer, and any medications we’re on.  It’s also a dangerous boost to privatisation – giving corporations data which will help them take over more of the NHS.

Together we can fix their plans now, before it’s too late. And there are two key ways 38 Degrees members could have maximum impact:

  1. Sound the alarm nationally and use our power in numbers to stop these plans in their tracks. We can spread the story to let people know and focus our energy on stopping the scheme in the pilot areas.
  2. Block the rollout on the ground:
    • Enable people who live in the affected areas to opt out of the scheme (it was was this tactic that stopped their plans last time). There’s a website which makes this easy, and is ready to go.
    • Work with 38 Degrees members on the ground to let as many people as possible know about the threat of private companies and spread the news with leafleting, adverts & media attention.

So what do you think? Should we launch a campaign now? If enough 38 Degrees members say ‘YES’ we can launch a campaign straight away.

Allowing private companies, like Serco, to access our data is part of the drip, drip privatisation of our NHS that 38 Degrees members are so keen to stop. That’s why we’ve worked together to keep Care.data out of the hands of the corporations before – and why we could have a big impact together again.


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Labour promise more NHS funding, now what about the others?

September 23rd, 2014 by

Good news for the NHS – Labour has just promised to increase NHS funding if they win next year’s general election.

NHS finances are in dire straights. Services are being cut back across England, and the NHS will soon be £1bn in debt. The NHS needs more funding to survive.

There has been heated debate in the Labour Party about whether to commit to properly fund our NHS. Over 90,000 of us signed the petition calling on Ed Miliband to commit to more NHS funding. And yesterday, 38 Degrees members gathered outside the Labour Party conference to make sure the NHS was at the forefront of everyone’s mind.

Our pressure is working. The NHS is fast becoming the election issue. Labour have promised more funding.

Now let’s turn our sights to Cameron and Clegg and make sure they also commit to increase NHS funding. They’ll make their election promises in the next few days.

Can you sign the petition now?

It’s been an amazing few weeks for 38 Degrees members fighting for our NHS. Hundreds of us joined the People’s March for the NHS between Jarrow and London to protest at the way our NHS is being torn apart. Hundreds more were inside the NHS England AGM holding bosses to account.

Ed Miliband also today promised Labour would repeal the Health & Social Care Act – the law which makes NHS privatisation much easier and pledged to stop wasteful spending. Hundreds of thousands of 38 Degrees members campaigned against this law and if Labour win the election, we won’t let them forget this promise that could help save our NHS.

So let’s carry on the fight for our NHS. The Conservative Party conference is next week and the Lib Dems not long after – this is where party leaders make speeches that set out their plans for the General Election.

Together, we’re making sure politicians are in no doubt just how much we love our NHS – and what they need to do to protect it. Please sign the petition:

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

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Save our NHS – hundreds descend on meeting with NHS bosses

September 23rd, 2014 by

Last Thursday, NHS bosses met to discuss the future of our NHS and I’m sure they’re in no doubt about what 38 Degrees members want.

The room was buzzing with energy as 38 Degrees members asked questions on privatisation, TTIP, whistle-blowing and funding cuts. And as well as the hundreds of members in the room, many more joined in by watching the meeting online, suggesting questions and sending messages of support. It was NHS England’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) and we wanted to show how much we care about the NHS.

Pictures of 38 Degrees members at the NHS England AGM

With a sea of ‘I love the NHS’ t-shirts, we sent out a strong message that we love our health service too much to let it be sold off to the highest bidder. Last night, NHS bosses could clearly see which issues hit home, and more importantly which didn’t. When 38 Degrees members come together, we’re too powerful to be ignored.

We definitely rattled their cages. Here are some pictures from the day on Facebook – share them with your friends to show you were there: https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/nhs-agm-pics

Missed it? You can watch the whole meeting again online. My favourite bit was when one of the participants put on one of our ‘I love the NHS’ t-shirts on-stage:

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

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The People’s March for the NHS

September 1st, 2014 by

“Used by us, owned by us, loved by us. Now the NHS can only be saved by us.”

These are the words of a group of mums who desperately want to protect our country’s most treasured service, the NHS. So they’re taking to the streets. Can you join them?

‘999 Call for the NHS’ is a group of mums from Darlington who love our NHS and want to protect it. They’re walking a massive 300 miles over three weeks, through over 20 towns and cities in England.

They’re being joined by thousands of people on the way – some for an hour’s walk, some for a whole day, and some are just coming out on the street to greet them along the way. Can you join them as the march approaches London? Click here to find the nearest place to join.

The march is the perfect opportunity for people who love the NHS to stand together in solidarity. The marchers will be publicly reminding the government that the NHS belongs to all of us – and not to private companies.

At a time when NHS funding is being cut, services are being privatised and our hospitals are being closed it’s easy to feel powerless. But together, we’re a force to be reckoned with.

By going on the march, or coming along to cheer the march on, we can make a noise – and make politicians sit up and notice.

There are loads of ways you can get involved. Rehana, one of the group’s organisers, says:

We’re asking 38 Degrees members to join us; walk a mile, walk ten miles, come along to a rally or donate a pound or two to make sure we have the resources we need! Every mile we cover will unite people behind our NHS.

Are you free to join the march? Or come along to the final rally in Trafalgar Square, 3.30pm on Saturday? Click here for details and to join.

Or if you can’t make it, could you chip in a few pounds so that we can buy t-shirts, flags and banners for the final march into London? We want our impact to be as powerful as possible. Click here to make a secure donation.

At some point in our lives, all of us have used the NHS. Now it’s time to stand up for it.

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Jeremy Hunt: Don’t close our GP surgeries

August 15th, 2014 by

Jeremy Hunt has changed the rules again. He’s bringing in cuts that could see some local GP surgeries closing their doors for good. 700,000 of us could lose our local GP.

The top-up funds that many surgeries rely on are being slashed and the money channelled away from those who need them most. Even NHS England admitted that Hunt’s reforms strike the poorest hardest.

The clock is ticking: some surgeries say they could close within a year. The government won’t want bad news stories sticking around in the run up to the election. If Jeremy Hunt feels another big battle brewing over the NHS, it might be enough to persuade him to stop the cuts.

As Hunt tries to relax this weekend, let’s make sure he feels the heat. We can build a huge petition to leave him in no doubt that these cuts are not ok and we’ll always be here to protect our NHS:

38 Degrees members have already taken on Jeremy Hunt and won before. We stopped his Hospital Closure Clause and people power beat him in court twice when 38 Degrees members helped fund the legal case to save Lewisham hospital.

Protesters with Save our NHS banner in Westminster

As more surgeries are forced to shut, this could open the door for more GP surgeries to be run by large private firms on the cheap.

Hundreds of our GPs have already been campaigning against these cuts – let’s stand with them.

Please sign the petition to stop Jeremy Hunt’s dangerous plans in their tracks:

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

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Good Hope Hospital

August 13th, 2014 by

38 Degrees member, Krystyna, has launched a campaign calling on NHS Heart Of England Trust to hold a public meeting about the future of services at Good Hope Hospital.

The Heart of England Foundation Trust recently revealed plans to cut vital services like trauma and surgery from Good Hope Hospital. They promised to hold a public meeting to discuss these changes but have yet to set a date.

The changes could come into place as soon as the Autumn but campaigners say the public haven’t been properly consulted.

Krystyna and other members of the ‘Save Good Hope’s Local Services’ are handing their petition into Downing Street this Friday. Can you help them reach 1000 signatures? Click here.

Here’s what Krystyna says:

“The Trust have stated several times in the media that they would hold a full public consultation but so far have refused to name a date.”

The proposals allegedly involve the transference of key services from Good Hope to Heartlands and Solihull hospitals, both great distances to travel for many people and particularly difficult for carers and those they care for – the elderly, very young and disabled.

“We encourage everyone in the area who would be affected by the Trust’s proposed changes and who wants to have a say on the future of our hospital to sign the petition.”

Click here to sign her petition now:

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Your Decision – 21st July

July 21st, 2014 by

Every week a group of 38 Degrees members vote on which issues our movement should prioritise and which campaigns to get behind. Here are the results for last week.

Protecting the NHS by stopping the government’s dangerous plans like privatisation and closing A&E departments has come top this week.

The next biggest issues were: cracking down on tax dodging by big companies, ban the routine use of antibiotics in factory farming, and campaign for education policies that enable every child to reach their full potential.

You can see how 38 Degrees members voted on other issues on the graph below. The blue on the graph shows how many people answered ‘a lot’ in support of the campaigns listed, the red represents people answering ‘a little’, and the green is ‘not at all’.

What do you think? Please comment below. For a full size chart please click here.

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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.


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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Simon Stevens, NHS England: will you meet 38 Degrees members?

May 13th, 2014 by

Back in March, nearly 150,000 38 Degrees members added their names to a petition to Simon Stevens, the new head of NHS England. We called on him to make the NHS more transparent. Now he’s responded. And it’s promising.

The petition called for NHS England to be more open about how decisions about our NHS are made. Especially when it comes to contracts with private companies.

In a statement in May’s board papers, Simon’s said he’s committed to transparency. And he’s agreed to publish, for the first time, top NHS bosses’ meetings with private companies. Here’s the full thing:

“NHS England has set new standards for openness and transparency in all of its operations, compared with what went before. And I’ve set myself and our organisation the goal in everything we do of ‘thinking like a patient, and acting like a taxpayer’. We meet as a board in public, are publicly set goals through a democratically-accountable Mandate, and maintain and publish declarations of interest for all Non-Executive and Executive Directors. NHS England already publishes information on expenses incurred by national directors and we hold a register of gifts and hospitality received. One additional transparency step we will now take – similar to the practices of government departments – is to routinely publish information on the chief executive’s and executive directors’ business meetings with external non-public sector organisations.”

That’s a big step in the right direction. It means we can call out meetings that look dodgy and see – a little more clearly – who’s really influencing NHS policy.

But we still don’t know how his commitments will work in practice. And he hasn’t responded at all to our call not to pay corporate lobbyists to write government policy.

NHS England are front-page news today for another reason – an emerging expenses scandal. So far, they’ve responded by announcing a clampdown on lavish spending, alongside setting a new goal for the whole organisation: “Thinking like a patient, and acting like a taxpayer”.

So let’s make sure Simon Stevens knows what patients and taxpayers want! 38 Degrees members are emailing Simon Stevens in their thousands today to ask him to meet face-to-face with us. Putting our points to him face-to-face could be just what we need to find out where he stands – and give us the chance to tell him how he can protect our NHS. If you’d like to email Simon too, please click here.

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