STOP PRESS - It's likely the final stages of the hospital closure clause (along with the rest of the Care Bill) will be debated and voted on in the Commons in early March so don't delay - sign the petition and write to your MP today!
There is very little time to act to stop the government making it much easier and quicker to close local hospitals with hardly any consultation. Please act now - there are several things you can do to help protect your local hospitals.
First, you can sign the petition for Hunt axe the hospital closure clause. His attacks on hospitals have gone too far already.
Second, if you have time, please write to your local MP. You can cut and paste the text below, and please amend your letter to:
a) address your MP directly
b) refer to your local hospitals, and
c) put in any other personal experience or thoughts you’d like to include.
You can find and email your MP easily by using this site www.writetothem.com.
An open letter to MPs - updated February 2014
Dear INSERT NAME OF MP,
Oppose the Hospital Closure Clause! (Clause 119 of the Care Bill)
I’m writing to ask you to vote against the 'hospital closure clause when it returns to parliament for the final votes in March 2014.
The Clause - Clause 119 of the Care Bill, renumbered from Clause 118 - makes it far easier to close hospitals regardless of the wishes of local people, councillors and doctors. It gives the Health Secretary and his Administrators sweeping new power to impose fast-track closures and downgrades on any hospital, regardless of how well performing it is, if there is a struggling hospital nearby.
(You might want to mention your local hospital here, and say briefly why the issue is important to you).
The ‘Administration’ regime was designed for ‘unsustainable’ hospital providers, those facing effective bankruptcy. It has no meaningful consultation - just a public meeting or two. It should not be used to fast-track wider, complex decisions about hospital changes, avoiding the inconvenience of local democracy. But that is exactly how it is likely to be used, if this Clause becomes law.
These aren’t just my concerns.
The BMA has said that Clause 118 would allow the Health Secretary to "force changes through the back door".
The Royal College of Physicians says Consultation with patients, clinicians, commissioners and other trusts must be substantial, and conducted at a stage when it is truly meaningful.”
- Both the RCP and the BMA have made clear that some minor amendments to the Clause do not go far enough to address concerns about the public being excluded from these decisions.
The NHS Alliance says “Clause 118 opens the door to wholesale NHS changes across large areas with almost no effective recourse to public scrutiny and debate.”
Writing in the British Medical Journal, Professor Allyson Pollock says that the clause will "undermine equal access to care in England" and removes "checks and balances designed to ensure that changes are in the interests of the communities affected" with centrally-appointed decision makers only having to think about money.
- The Nuffield Trust criticises the Clause - even after a few minor amendments - and says “if those plans involve another trust, the standard rules of consultation, including timetables, should apply.”
Lewisham Hospital campaigners - who recently won a court case to stop the government from closing their popular Accident and Emergency and Maternity services - have warned that this Clause removes the law that protected Lewisham and that ‘no hospital in the country would be safe’ if it becomes law.
The clause scraps local democracy over hospital reconfiguration decisions in the following ways:
Clinical Commissioning Groups must be - very briefly - consulted - but they can be then be ignored and overruled. Hardly ‘handing power to doctors’.
The requirements for CCGs and other NHS bodies to consult the public are scrapped.
The requirement for plans to go before local authority scrutiny panels (with the possibility to refer to an independent panel) is scrapped - local authorities will have no say on hospital closures, despite the impact on our local population.
If the ‘hospital closure clause’ becomes law, the fate of our local hospitals will be taken out of our hands. What happened to 'no decision about me without me'?
We already know that the government is quietly reviewing the future of half the hospitals in the country, and that - as reported this week - nearly half have been forced into deficit by futher cuts including 'fines' for delays caused by the impact of previous cuts!
The UK already has fewer hospital beds than most developed countries, yet it seems our hospitals are being set up to fail, ready for privatisation which is already starting to happen.
I hope you will protect your constituents’ right to have a say in the future of our hospital provision.
Will you press to get the the hospital closure clause dropped from the Bill?
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