What we’ve achieved so far this year for our NHS

38 Degrees members have put a lot of energy into the NHS so far this year. That’s because the NHS is in trouble. It doesn’t have the funding it needs, which means hospitals are facing big cuts, waiting times getting longer, and patients suffering. [1]

This blog is a round-up of how 38 Degrees members across the UK are responding to these threats to the NHS with a huge campaign to protect it. I truly believe we’re making a difference, and I want to share that with you.

Over a million 38 Degrees members have already got involved to protect the NHS this year. There’s so much still to do, but I believe the NHS would be in a worse place today were it not for all of us working together.

So please take a few minutes to read about everything we’ve done together, and feel inspired to keep working with millions of other people across the UK to get the NHS the funding it needs to care for all of us.

The winter crisis:

It was a sombre start to 2017. The winter crisis pushed hospitals to breaking point. [2] Together, we demanded the Westminster government take responsibility and give the NHS more funding.

  • 468,470 of us signed the petition to demand the government give the NHS more funding.
  • 27,757 of us emailed and tweeted our MPs to ask them to stand up for our local hospitals.
  • Thousands of us shared our personal stories about how we were affected by the winter crisis. We combined this with data about the NHS crisis in every postcode to create an NHS crisis tracker. Dozens of newspapers reported the results and 2.5 million people looked at the website. [3]
  • Over a million people watched a 38 Degrees investigation on ITV news that revealed that the worst-hit A&Es were facing more budget cuts. [4]

 

The pressure from millions of us, the media and our MPs, all added up. After staying silent for weeks, the Health Minister at Westminister, Jeremy Hunt, was forced to admit that the NHS crisis was unacceptable. It proved that responsibility for the crisis fell with him and the government. It fell a long way short of giving the NHS more funding. But it was a step in the right direction, which will make it harder in the future for Jeremy Hunt to dodge responsibility or to pass the blame onto NHS staff. [5]

Saving services, one-by-one:

38 Degrees members exposed secret cuts to the NHS in England in 2016 called ‘Sustainability and Transformation plans’. Since then, thousands of us have been working together in our local areas to make sure no one suffers from NHS cuts. We’re making sure no maternity ward or A&E gets shut, that waiting times don’t get longer and vital treatments don’t get scrapped.

  • Dozens of 38 Degrees members have started campaigns to protect their local services from cuts and closures.
  • Half a million of us have signed petitions against big changes to our local NHS services which could be bad for patients.
  • As soon as it was revealed that 14 areas in England face fresh cuts to plug the NHS funding gap (called a ‘Capped Expenditure Process’), 200,000 of us sprung into action to demand Jeremy Hunt stop the cuts.
  • Then 48,000 of us signed petitions to our MPs asking them to oppose cuts to NHS services in their constituencies.

 

All these local campaigns are adding up to making big change happen, one-by-one. Firstly, the ripples of our 515,000-strong campaign on ‘Sustainability and Transformation plans’ were felt in March. The Chancellor Philip Hammond announced a £325m fund so that some of the NHS plans could focus more on improving patient care, not simply plugging a funding gap. [6]

Dozens more local campaigns are making progress – and winning! Just last week, campaigners in Essex celebrated saving Broomfield A&E. The A&E was set to be downgraded under these cuts plans but 38 Degrees member Andy was worried that people could lose precious, life-saving minutes. So he set up a campaign, got 22,000 people involved and convinced local NHS bosses to protect the A&E. [7]

Finally, our 228,000-strong plea to the government to stop new cuts under the ‘Capped Expenditure Process’ is having impact. The government immediately halved the amount of money that NHS bosses had to save, which will save a lot of services. [8]

There’s still a lot of other services at risk though, like A&Es, maternity units, cancer and heart tests. We need to make sure no mum-to-be has to travel miles further because her nearest maternity unit has closed. And to make sure no one’s friend dies before their time because they were denied a vital cancer test. [9]

People-powered solutions:

It became clear early in the year that solutions for the NHS funding crisis weren’t being discussed enough. So instead of demanding politicians come up with the answers, we took the job into our own hands. 38 Degrees members created the first set of people-powered policy solutions to the NHS funding crisis.

  • Thousands of us chipped in to pay for experts to find the best, and quickest, policies that the government could adopt. They came up with a shortlist of 28 ideas. [10]
  • 65,154 of us voted on our favourite ideas, ranging from scrapping big infrastructure projects to paying more tax.
  • 99,000 of us shared the ideas with our MPs, to prove that there are answers to the NHS funding crisis and it’s their job to champion them. Lots of MPs were interested in our ideas and brought up the issue in a debate in Parliament.

 

Thanks to the hard work of 38 Degrees members, experts and other NHS campaigners, our ideas had cut-through. Every political party pledged more NHS funding as soon as the General Election was called. [11] Together, we’ve now got to hold the new government to account on their promise and demand even more.

I’m still worried about the future of our NHS – all across the UK. But I also think there’s a lot to be proud of so far this year – I hope you agree. It can feel hard to make a difference as just one person. But when one voice is joined by millions more, we’re more powerful than any of us could be alone. So let’s keep working together. You, me, and millions of other 38 Degrees members can make sure the NHS gets the funding and help it needs.

 

PS: Did you know 38 Degrees campaigns are chosen, run and funded by 38 Degrees members like you? Being funded by small donations from thousands of people all over the UK is what keeps us independent. It means 38 Degrees can campaign on what all of us think is important, not what a small group of wealthy donors want us to do.

Please consider setting up a small regular donation, like £2 or £3 a week, to fund campaigns like the one to protect our NHS. It only takes a few minutes to set up: https://link.38degrees.org.uk/NHS-Update-DD 

 

NOTES:
[1] The Mirror: Number of senior nurses quitting NHS doubles after staff shortages, pressure and poor pay contribute to “perfect storm”:
http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/number-senior-nurses-quitting-nhs-10877023
BBC: Mental health patients stranded in units for years:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-40631929
The Times: Patients in same street get different NHS care (paywall):
https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/patients-in-same-street-get-different-nhs-care-l09z6tjn2
The Daily Mail: Now the NHS is rationing wheelchairs! Up to two thirds in some areas are missing out:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-4753616/Now-NHS-rationing-wheelchairs.html 
[2] Sky News: NHS crisis: ‘Patients’ lives being put at risk’ say doctors:
http://news.sky.com/story/labour-to-demand-government-comes-up-with-nhs-rescue-plan-10724595
The Guardian: Theresa May urged to get a grip on NHS as winter crisis spirals:
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/jan/07/theresa-may-urged-to-get-grip-on-nhs-winter-crisis
BBC News: Leak shows full extent of NHS winter crisis:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-38570960
[3] Here are a couple of examples:
Hinkley Times: NHS problems highlighted with interactive postcode map from 38 Degrees:
http://www.hinckleytimes.net/news/local-news/nhs-problems-highlighted-interactive-postcode-12640116
Plymouth Herald: New NHS ‘crisis tracker’ reveals A&E waiting times in your area:
http://www.plymouthherald.co.uk/new-nhs-crisis-tracker-reveals-a-e-waiting-times-in-your-area/story-30087183-detail/story.html
[4] ITV: Hospitals with worst performing A&Es set to cut services:
http://www.itv.com/news/2017-01-16/hospitals-with-worst-performing-aes-set-to-cut-services/
[5] The Independent: Jeremy Hunt admits parts of the NHS are providing ‘unacceptable’ care:
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/jeremy-hunt-nhs-crisis-winter-unacceptable-care-bbc-interview-a7572686.html
[6] Chancellor Philip Hammond pledged £325m for the NHS to put towards some ‘Sustainability and Transformation plans’. This means that some of the local plans can now focus more on making changes to the NHS that will be better for patients, because they’ve got the extra money, rather than filling the £325m hole in the budget with cuts and closures. It’s not enough, because it’s not for every area and it’s nowhere near enough money, but it’s a step in the right direction for the Chancellor to admit the NHS needed more money.
Health Service Journal (behind a paywall): Leading STPs to get ‘very modest’ £325m capital funding:
https://www.hsj.co.uk/commissioning/leading-stps-to-get-very-modest-325m-capital-funding/7016338.article 
[7] 38 Degrees: Defend our A&E at Broomfield Hospital:
https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/defend-our-a-e-broomfield
38 Degrees Blog: Victory: Broomfield’s A&E in Essex has been saved:
https://home.38degrees.org.uk/2017/07/24/victory-broomfields-ae-essex-saved/
[8] The Guardian: NHS chiefs soften ‘brutal’ cost-cutting plan after huge backlash:
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/jun/29/nhs-chiefs-soften-brutal-cost-cutting-plan-after-huge-backlash
[9] The Guardian: NHS accused of shrouding £500m of planned cuts in secrecy:
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/jul/28/nhs-accused-of-shrouding-500m-of-planned-cuts-in-secrecy
[10] 38 Degrees Blog: The 38 Degrees crowdfunded investigation into secret NHS plans:
https://home.38degrees.org.uk/2016/08/26/38-degrees-crowdfunded-investigation-secret-nhs-plans/
[11] The King’s Fund: General election 2017: who will be most generous to the NHS?:
https://www.kingsfund.org.uk/blog/2017/06/general-election-most-generous-nhs
SNP 2017 election manifesto:
https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/thesnp/pages/9544/attachments/original/1496320559/Manifesto_06_01_17.pdf?1496320559