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Jun 10th, 2011

NHS: Phone your MP today

By JohnnyChatterton

Call your MP

Photograph by psd (Flickr)

Things are moving fast. The press are reporting that David Cameron and Nick Clegg are trying to finalise changes to their NHS plans. The next few days are critical – we need to move quickly to influence their decisions.

It looks like Clegg and Cameron may try to push ahead with at least two of the most worrying parts of Andrew Lansley’s original plans. They’re still toying with imposing more competition from private health companies. And they’re still looking to scrap their legal duty to provide the same standard of healthcare to everyone wherever they live.

Together, we can persuade them to drop these dangerous bits of the plans. MPs don’t get a lot of phone calls from their voters. If thousands of us call them today, it will send shockwaves through parliament as MPs, Clegg and Cameron realise how determined we are to protect our NHS!

Can you phone your MP today? It’s quick and easy. Find their name, number, and tips for what to say, here:

Here’s some feedback from the hundreds of 38 Degrees members who have called their MP already today:

  • I left a message and received a call back in a very short time. They were very helpful and assured me my concerns would be passed on to my MP.
  • I got straight through on the first ring, but my MP was in his constituency. His very polite assistant asked me to send an email, which I am going to do. I will mention in the email that I called. It really didn’t take long and I encourage everyone to pick up the phone.
  • Got through to my MPs nice and polite researcher who seemed rather surprised to get a call from an actual constituent. `Please tell Mr Brokenshire NOT to let his bosses back out of their present NHS legal duties and that I certainly DON’T want a US-style health system in my country! No one voted for that.’
  • Polite young man in Neil Carmichael’s office in Westminster took notes and read back my specific concerns. It was good to be well prepared. And important to be gracious. Worth doing, I felt. Took 3 minutes max.
  • Really easy to get through to Paul Blomfield’s office. Staff member took my message and assured me that I would receive a reply.
  • Couldn’t speak to Kris directly but left a message with my concerns. They said they would be passed on. they also said their phones were a bit busy right now!
  • Ok, got straight through to House of Commons. Answer machine on my MP’s line. Not sure I’ll have time to ring later so left a long message outlining my concerns to her. I used the prompts from the website, which fit with my concerns perfectly. Hope she gets the message
  • I have tried 4 times this morning to speak with my MP Nick Boles. Line has been busy so looks like the messages are getting across!
  • Esther McVey away spoke to an assistant who listened. Local constituency rand me back immediately and asked me to write or e-mail.

It’s quick and easy to call your MP. Find all the details you need here: http://www.38degrees.org.uk/phone-your-mp

Update 1 – Here are some more details notes that might be helpful when you call your MP

Issue 1. Threat to Government’s duty to provide a comprehensive health service

Key points:

  • The NHS bill proposes to scrap the legal duty on all governments to provide a comprehensive health service. This rule was the cornerstone in creating the NHS over 60 years ago.
  • The government is dropping this rule to allow NHS contracts to be given to private firms who may not provide the same level of service across the country, which might make the “postcode lottery” even worse.
  • The bill proposes to allow GP groups to provide (or not provide) services that they think are best or most cost effective. Governments won’t be legally required to provide a comprehensive health service in future.

What to ask your MP
Do you support the retention in the bill of the legal duty upon the Secretary of State to provide a comprehensive health service?

If your MP says disagrees with you, here’s a reply you can use:
Many health experts are very concerned that the changes will undermine the ability of the NHS to provide consistent care across the country.
The group that represents GPs said that the reforms risk unravelling the NHS.

More information is available here: http://www.dutytoprovide.net/

Issue 2. Competition in the NHS

Key points

The government’s current proposals would establish the NHS’s main regulator, Monitor, as an “economic regulator” focused on competition. This is currently in “Clause 60” of the Bill.

  • Price competition could lead to a ‘race to the bottom’ in terms of quality of care, and could lead to more expensive, but more effective, treatments being ruled out of the NHS altogether.
  • The British Medical Association, along with many others, is warning that this clause would be extremely damaging to the NHS: “Monitor’s key task must be to maintain access to high quality patient care, rather than promoting competition. Only by removing the duty on Monitor to promote competition can it be ensured that commissioners and providers are given the freedom to operate in the best interests of their patients.”
  • We need to persuade MPs to vote against the “competition clause” and support regulation which instead focuses on ensuring high quality healthcare for everyone.

What to ask your MP
Will you vote against the “competition clause” and instead support regulation which prioritises ensuring quality healthcare for everyone?

If your MP disagrees with you, here’s a reply you can use:

  • The role of Monitor is crucial here and it has not yet been agreed that this will be amended.
  • The bill still contains powers for commissioning bodies to agree lower prices and it’s not clear quite how price competition will be outlawed. The government needs to be much clearer on this.
  • The NHS will still be left with higher costs than private firms. Private firms won’t bother with treating expensive, difficult cases.


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