May 7th, 2014
Hospital closure clause: we did it!
By Rachel Oliver
Some very, very good news. We did it! The government has accepted our amendment to the hospital closure clause in the House of Lords.
Without our amendment the hospital closure clause would have given the government new powers to close any hospital in England, even if local doctors were against it.
The clause was voted for by MPs back in March after the government made some concessions. Their changes didn’t go far enough, but it seemed like the government wouldn’t budge any further.
The clause was due to be passed today. So the government’s decision to accept – almost word for word – the changes proposed by lawyers funded by 38 Degrees members came right down to the wire – and it was a big surprise.
Our people powered pressure worked and our hospitals are now safer. Thank you for everything you’ve done to make this happen. Hurrah!
David Lock QC, an NHS expert lawyer, has checked the Government’s changes and here’s what he said:
“This is a very satisfying outcome. It recognises the compelling logic of the position taken by 38 Degrees members.”
38 Degrees members, alongside others like the Save the Lewisham Hospital Campaign, have been campaigning on this for months:
– Over 150,000 of us signed a petition calling for the plans to be scrapped
– After meeting with 38 Degrees members, Lib Dem MP and ex-health minister Paul Burstow tabled amendments to the clause. The government, fearing a rebellion from within its own ranks, made some concessions but they didn’t go far enough.
– The campaign then moved to the House of Lords. Baroness Finlay, a well-respected doctor and influential crossbench peer, led the charge. 38 Degrees members funded briefings and advice from legal heavyweights and we wrote to peers.
In the end, everything we did together (alongside other campaigners and parliamentarians like Baroness Finlay, Paul Burstow MP, Andy Burnham MP) worked. The government has made the changes that they needed to.
Regardless of what happened today, we’ve still got a huge amount to do to protect our NHS. But wins like this, especially on the NHS, don’t come along that often. Today gives us more proof that when we work together, we can achieve great things, and make the government sit up and listen. So for today, let’s celebrate.