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Mar 21st, 2013

Members meet the Health Minister

By Rebecca Falcon

38 Degrees members had a big meeting today with Lib Dem Health Minister Norman Lamb. It was a chance for us to say what we think of his response to our campaign against dodgy, pro-privatisation NHS regulations.


38 Degrees brings together over 1 million of us – too many to fit in one meeting room! So only a few members were able to attend, but we were proud to get our members in the room to set out our case. To make sure we could give a fair representation of all our members’ views 38 Degrees sent out a short poll asking our members what to say. This meant 38 Degrees members’ views were truly represented to the Health Minister.

In the past few weeks, we’ve proved again that people-powered campaigning can work. Through a 350,000 signature petition, thousands of messages to MPs, and member-funded legal advice we helped push Norman Lamb to scrap the first version of these dodgy, pro-privatisation NHS regulations.

But that’s where things started getting more complicated. Norman Lamb rushed to publish a new version of the regulations. The new version does look a little bit better – but they are still nowhere near perfect.

So 38 Degrees member donations paid for two extra bits of legal advice. One, from an NHS law specialist, explains how Norman Lamb’s new version still doesn’t fully keep earlier promises not to impose privatisation. The other, from a competition law specialist, is a bit more positive but also says it may well have been impossible for these promises to ever be fully met.

That meant we had important choices to make about how we responded in the meeting with Norman Lamb. For example whether to prioritise pointing out ways in which the new version of the regulations could be improved? Or choosing to campaign for the regulations to be scrapped altogether?

It’s not usual for 38 Degrees to go into Westminster for a meeting with a Minister. Our power doesn’t come from being chummy with politicians. But on this occasion, we had a chance to put our views directly to the Minister just as he is deciding what to do next.

Norman Lamb will have to listen to us if he knows we speak on behalf of thousands and thousands of 38 Degrees members. And because we went in with the views all our members expressed in our poll our words carried this weight. Please continue to take the poll so that together we can take the NHS campaign forward.


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