Urgent: Appeal Campaign Title here about 10 words here

Apr 28th, 2014

Hospital Closure Clause: contact a peer

By Rachel Oliver

Thank you so much for agreeing to contact a Lord you know. Here’s a little bit more information, if you need it, about how to get in touch with them.

There are a few ways you could get in touch:

– Phone them:
Getting a phone call from someone they know will really make Lords think twice about voting for the hospital closure clause. It is likely to be the most effective way to encourage them to support Baroness Finlay’s amendment.
If you don’t already have their telephone number, you can ring the House of Lords Switchboard on 020 7219 3000 and ask for it.

– Write them a letter:
Lords might not check their emails every day, so sending a letter in the post might be a better way to make sure they hear your thoughts.
If you don’t have their home address, you can write to them at: The House of Lords, London, SW1A 0PW.

– Email them:
This is the quickest option, and is still going to have an impact. Click here to find a Lord’s email address.

Here’s a few pointers about what to say:

  • The most important thing is to ask them to support Baroness Finlay’s amendment to clause 119 of the Care Bill. It’s Amendment 43A.
  • Tell them why you think the hospital closure clause is dangerous for our NHS.

Here’s some more information about Clause 119:

What is clause 119?
Clause 119 of the Care Bill has been dubbed by many as the ‘hospital closure clause’. It was brought forward by the government after judges ruled that Ministers acted illegally by trying to cut emergency and maternity services at Lewisham Hospital.

The Lewisham example:
The attempt to cut services at Lewisham came after the neighbouring South London Healthcare Trust went into administration. Campaigners successfully argued that according to the law, a well-performing and popular local hospital should not be made to pay for the price for failings elsewhere. A judicial review and subsequent government high court appeal both ruled in the campaigners’ favour and against the government.

What is in the clause?
Clause 119, as it was first proposed, aimed to makes changes to the Trust Special Administration (TSA) process which is used when an NHS Trust gets into serious financial difficulty. The Government is entitled to appoint an administrator, the TSA, to take over the Trust and produce a report recommending changes to local NHS services.

Under the current regime – as proved by the Lewisham legal appeal – the TSA is only supposed to recommend changes to a Trust in administration.

Clause 119 would give the TSA extensive powers over any other hospital that was linked to the financial problems of the Trust which is in financial difficulty. This means that NHS services could be subject to widespread reconfiguration by the back door, without the support of the local Clinical Commission Group (CCG) and without proper public consultation.

There is a danger that the Government could use these new powers to change or cut services at NHS hospitals without local people or doctors having a proper say. This runs contrary to their intentions as set out in the Health and Social Care Act.

The amendment:
Paul Burstow MP tabled an amendment to clause 119 as it passed through the House of Commons. This amendment aimed to improve the clause, and was drafted by lawyers funded by 38 Degrees members.

The Government was faced with a rebellion when the clause was considered in the House of Commons. They made a series of concessions. Whilst welcomed, these changes do not go far enough, as explained below.

Baroness Finlay of Llandaff’s amendment is similar to the Burstow amendment. He has said he supports her tabling it as he has ‘not yet been fully satisfied’ by Ministers’ actions following the government’s concessions.

  • Tell them why you think it is important that the clause is amended. Do you have any personal experiences of your local hospital you could share?
  • You could also encourage them to go to the meeting with Baroness Finlay to hear more about Amendment 43 A. It’s at 4.30pm on Tuesday 6th May in Residents Room 1, the House of Lords.
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