Something for the to-do list: write to the Lord of Dalston

The indefatigable Bronwen Handyside, Secretary of Hackney Keep Our NHS Public, has forwarded details of how you can contact Lords about the proposed dismantling of the NHS.
The ‘pause’ in the Bill’s progress ends at the start of June, so now is a good time to write. Although most of the discussion around the changes focuses on amendments to the current plan, the scariest aspect of the Bill, which barely rates a mention by Cameron et al, is the removal of the Secretary of State’s legal duty to provide health service in England. Read below to find out more…
Hackney’s representative in the House of Lords is Lord Colin Lowe, and he can be emailed at lowc@parliament.uk. He is also Vice President of the Royal National Institute for the Blind and President of the European Blind Union, and has spoken out about disability in the past.

Here is a suggested template:

Dear Lord Low

Health and Social Care Bill:

Removal of the Secretary of State’s legal duty

to provide health service in England

 

I’m writing to ask you to actively support the call for a House of Lords Select Committee to be established to scrutinise this Bill, should it reach the upper chamber.

The reason for this request is a matter of deep concern to me – that the Health and Social Care Bill introduces legal changes that threaten the future existence of the NHS. This is partially hidden amidst the controversy about GP commissioning consortia, the abolition of primary care trusts and the commercialisation of health service provision. I write knowing that you have long had a special interest in health and disability.

The current legal framework ensures the NHS is:

  • publicly accountable;
  • available to us all;
  • comprehensive; and
  • free at the point of delivery and funded by taxes.

The duties and powers of the Secretary of State for Health are pivotal to this framework.

Very differently, the Health and Social Care Bill (Part 1, Section 1, Clause 1) removes the secretary of state’s duty to provide the health service in England. The government will also loose its power to direct NHS bodies and providers. The Health and Social Care Bill is radically different to any health legislation since the inception of the NHS in that it actually repeals the key principles upon which it was founded. Abolishing the duties and powers of the secretary of state fundamentally changes the nature of the relationship between the NHS and Parliament; the former will no longer be accountable to the latter. Instead, the Bill puts in place the legal framework for a commercial system of health care.

So far, discussions about the Bill are largely focussing on amendments, such as changing the membership of commissioning consortia. However, unless this legislation is scrapped in its entirety, the ‘NHS’, which is currently the envy of the world, will become a mere logo and a brand name for assorted, autonomous health services.

I can supply further information about this but see also: http://www.bmj.com/content/342/bmj.d1695.full#responses

You could add something about yourself here eg:

As an NHS employee I am very concerned about these changes …..

or

As an NHS user, I am very worried that some services I need will no longer be affordable to me ….

Please support a call for a Select Committee to scrutinise this repealing Bill.

Yours sincerely,

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