Simon Stevens, NHS England: will you meet 38 Degrees members?

Back in March, nearly 150,000 38 Degrees members added their names to a petition to Simon Stevens, the new head of NHS England. We called on him to make the NHS more transparent. Now he’s responded. And it’s promising.

The petition called for NHS England to be more open about how decisions about our NHS are made. Especially when it comes to contracts with private companies.

In a statement in May’s board papers, Simon’s said he’s committed to transparency. And he’s agreed to publish, for the first time, top NHS bosses’ meetings with private companies. Here’s the full thing:

“NHS England has set new standards for openness and transparency in all of its operations, compared with what went before. And I’ve set myself and our organisation the goal in everything we do of ‘thinking like a patient, and acting like a taxpayer’. We meet as a board in public, are publicly set goals through a democratically-accountable Mandate, and maintain and publish declarations of interest for all Non-Executive and Executive Directors. NHS England already publishes information on expenses incurred by national directors and we hold a register of gifts and hospitality received. One additional transparency step we will now take – similar to the practices of government departments – is to routinely publish information on the chief executive’s and executive directors’ business meetings with external non-public sector organisations.”

That’s a big step in the right direction. It means we can call out meetings that look dodgy and see – a little more clearly – who’s really influencing NHS policy.

But we still don’t know how his commitments will work in practice. And he hasn’t responded at all to our call not to pay corporate lobbyists to write government policy.

NHS England are front-page news today for another reason – an emerging expenses scandal. So far, they’ve responded by announcing a clampdown on lavish spending, alongside setting a new goal for the whole organisation: “Thinking like a patient, and acting like a taxpayer”.

So let’s make sure Simon Stevens knows what patients and taxpayers want! 38 Degrees members are emailing Simon Stevens in their thousands today to ask him to meet face-to-face with us. Putting our points to him face-to-face could be just what we need to find out where he stands – and give us the chance to tell him how he can protect our NHS. If you’d like to email Simon too, please click here.