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Nov 3rd, 2011

Save our NHS: some good news

By JohnnyChatterton

Members handing in the petition

Photograph by 38 Degrees

We had some good news last night about the NHS campaign. Here’s an email, which is being sent out at the moment, explaining what’s happened:

Good news. Yesterday we moved a step closer to stopping one of the worst bits of Andrew Lansley’s NHS plan. It looks like we are on track to stop the health minister being able to wash his hands of legal responsibility for our health service.

The Guardian reports today that the government had to make concessions in the House of Lords, “in order to stave off an embarrassing rebellion from Lib Dem peers”. There will now be further negotiations. The final vote on this issue will be in January at the earliest. It is “unlikely that the Lib Dem rebels will back down”. [1]

It’s not over yet. Nowhere near. We will need to get our independent legal experts to look very carefully at whatever the government does next. But this is a breakthrough. And a great sign of hope that people power can influence the House of Lords.

We voted together to make it a priority to stop Andrew Lansley scrapping his “duty to provide” health services. And we worked together to decide on the tactics we use to stop this happening. Slowly but surely our people powered campaign to protect the NHS is working.

38 Degrees members paid together for the independent legal advice which first set out the risks of scrapping the Secretary of State’s duties. Thousands of us signed the emergency petition last month. And thousands more of us emailed Lords and Baronesses in the past two weeks.

We have taken some nasty abuse from politicians for our efforts. Andrew Lansley stood up in Parliament to accuse us of producing “propaganda”. [2] A number of Conservative MPs contacted 38 Degrees members in their area to say we were liars. One Lib Dem Lord branded us all a “mob”. [3] But now the government has finally been forced to admit that we have a point.

This is a small breakthrough on a huge issue. There is so much more to do to protect our NHS. Over the next few weeks the NHS plan will continue through “committee stage” in the House of Lords. We will need to push for other improvements like scrapping the “hands off clause” and reining in competition.

Then we’ll have even bigger decisions to make. As the Lords gear up for final votes in early 2012, we will need to vote again on what we do together next. Should we push for further changes to Lansley’s plan? Should we decide that it’s still so far beyond improving that we have to make a last ditch attempt to stop it altogether? And if Lansley’s plans do go through, what can we do together next to prevent the worst effects?

So, lots more to do together soon to protect our NHS – but a glimmer of hope today. Let’s keep working together!

Thanks for being involved,

David, Hannah, Johnny, Becky, Marie, Cian and the 38 Degrees team

PS: 38 Degrees members have been discussing today’s news on Facebook. For example Russell says, “Winning the war is about fighting many battles…little victories, some losses…as long as we have a strong cause!” If you use Facebook you can join the conversation here: https://www.facebook.com/peoplepowerchange

[1] Guardian: NHS bill clause put on hold to stave off revolt by Liberal Democrat peers http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/nov/02/nhs-bill-clause-hold-lords
BBC: Peace breaks out in the Lords on the NHS Bill – for now http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-15563602
FT: Govt in a flap over health bill in the Lords http://blogs.ft.com/westminster/2011/11/govt-in-a-flap-over-health-bill-in-the-lords/#axzz1ce2iJ1sR
Politics.co.uk: NHS reforms: How to buy time in the Lords http://www.politics.co.uk/blogs/2011/11/02/nhs-reforms-how-to-buy-time-in-the-lords
[2] You can read what he said, and the 38 Degrees response, here: http://blog.38degrees.org.uk/2011/09/08/save-our-nhs-what-lansley-said-in-the-house-of-commons/
[3] http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/oct/20/38-degrees-lords-nhs-bill

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