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Mar 12th, 2014

NHS Hospital Closure clause: update

By becky

Yesterday, MPs debated the hospital closure clause. Here’s a quick update:

Paul Burstow MP – the Lib Dem who tabled the amendment which 38 Degrees members got behind – decided to drop his amendment before it came to a vote. He said he was doing this because the government had promised changes which addressed his concerns.

At first glance it seems that the government did make some positive changes. The challenge is working out whether they go far enough. The office team has asked legal experts to look at them.

Firstly, the government pledged that people will be consulted before any changes are made to their local hospital. Secondly, the government agreed that local doctors who commission health services will have a say on any changes made in their area.

Paul Burstow MP has written an article explaining why he thinks 38 Degrees members should be pleased with what we’ve achieved, it’s pasted into the previous blog post.

 Jamie Reed MP, the Labour shadow minister who also signed Burstow’s amendment, thinks Burstow was wrong to withdraw it – he’s also going to write an article explaining why the government’s promises aren’t good enough.

So it’s a bit murky right now. It looks like we probably got some, but not all, of what we wanted. The question is how much – and how safe will that leave our local hospitals? 38 Degrees members will get the verdict from the legal experts as soon as it’s in.

Right now, though, there is one thing we can be certain of: the difference 38 Degrees members made to the debate. Our people-powered petition was referred to several times. Lots of MPs mentioned the many emails they’d received from constituents. And more than that, the amendment that Paul Burstow tabled was drafted by lawyers paid for by donations from 38 Degrees members.

The government probably wouldn’t have made any changes at all without 38 Degrees members, and the pressure we put on our MPs. 

It’s complicated stuff, but here’s a bit more detail about what the government said yesterday:

– they agreed that any plan to close a hospital has to have the agreement of all local doctors on clinical commissioning groups in any area affected.

– they confirmed that the procedure that allows the government to appoint a Trust Special Administrator (TSA) when NHS Trust gets into serious financial difficulty will only be used in extreme circumstances.

– they agreed that when these decisions are being made, the Trust Special Administrator will consult local communities, through Healthwatch, and consult with the local authority.

– they have appointed Paul Burstow MP to chair a committee of MPs and Lords to make sure that our concerns are properly addressed through guidance that explains how the law can be applied.

Please comment below with your thoughts.

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