Letter to Simon Stevens

A letter sent today from 38 Degrees to Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England:

Dear Simon Stevens,

I’m frustrated to have to write to you today, after months of waiting for NHS England to deliver on your promises of transparency and openness.

Since February, 38 Degrees members have been asking NHS England to commit to high standards of transparency. We asked you to publicly declare conflicts of interest, publicly register any meetings with corporations and lobbyists, and not pay corporate lobbyists to write NHS policy.

This started when NHS England was found out to have employed the lobbying company, Specialised Healthcare Alliance, to write a draft report that could feed into NHS commissioning worth £12bn. As you know, SHA work for some of the world’s biggest health companies. 38 Degrees members see this as a clear conflict of interest and a threat to a publicly owned NHS.

You’ve repeatedly said NHS England stands for transparency, that this is a patients’ NHS, and that absolute transparency is key to driving improvements in standards of care. But your response to 38 Degrees members over the past five months hasn’t been transparent at all.

148,000 people signed the petition for greater transparency at NHS England. This is one of the biggest petitions 38 Degrees has ever had. You gave us some promises that NHS England would begin to declare conflicts of interest and register meetings with lobbyists. But you didn’t give details of what this will look like in practice.

Then almost 8000 people emailed you inviting you to meet with 38 Degrees members to flesh out your commitments. We heard nothing back.

300 38 Degrees members then attended your NHS Open House days in York, Leicester, Basingstoke and London. Your own regional directors, Jane Barnacle, Alan McDermott, Julie Hickling and Giles Wilmore, met us and said that NHS England would deliver plans on transparency by the start of July. Now its the end of July and we still haven’t heard anything.

The longer this goes on, the more concerned the public will become.

We would still like to see firm commitments from NHS England to declare any conflicts of interest, publicly register meetings with corporations and lobbyists and not pay corporate lobbyists to write NHS policy. Please can you let me know if you have any intention of doing this, and if so when?

In anticipation,

David Babbs,
Executive Director