Stop the hospital closure clause By Caroline Molloy and Louise Irvine
3 November 2013 — Our NHS
The government is trying to quietly rush through a law making it much easier to close our hospitals. It’s time to make our voices heard!
There is very little time to act to stop the government making it much easier and quicker to close local hospitals with hardly any consultation. Please act now – there are several things you can do to help protect your local hospitals.
First, you can sign the petition for Hunt to go, and to take the hospital closure clause with him. His attacks on hospitals have gone too far already,
Second, if you have time, please write to your local MP and your local newspaper. You can use the text below. Please amend it to:
a) address your MP directly
b) refer to your local hospitals, and
c) put in any other personal experience or thoughts you’d like to include.
You can find and write to your MP very easily by using this site www.writetothem.com
(If you use this site, make sure to copy and save the text yourself too, for your records).
It can be very effective to send an ‘open’ letter to your MP, by marking on the bottom you are copying it to your local paper and then sending it to the Editor.
Lastly, watch out for more action over the hospital closure clause very soon – we’ll keep you updated!
An open letter to MPs
The government is trying to quickly change the law to make it much easier and faster to close local hospitals and A&Es without any proper consultation of local people.
The law change will be debated and voted on in the Commons in November as part of the Care Bill, which has already been through the Lords. Clause 118, the hospital closure clause, would allow any hospital be closed down, or lose its A&E, maternity or other services, with hardly any local consultation. MPs must ensure this dreadful Clause does not become law.
Currently the law allows such undemocratic and fast-track closures to happen only at hospitals that are in such serious financial or clinical difficulties that they are taken into ‘Administration’.
But the hospital closure clause would change the law. It allows fast-track closures – or privatisations – to happen to any hospital, however high quality, popular and solvent, if it has a more struggling hospital nearby. And given the cuts currently being inflicted on the NHS, there will be few hospitals in the country that aren’t somewhere near a struggling hospital.
Why would anyone want to close down a popular, well-run A&E, maternity unit, or whole hospital? Especially when our hospitals are already full to overflowing?
Ask the people of Lewisham. There the government tried to fast-track the closure of Lewisham’s A&E and maternity services, to redirect patients (and money) to a different Hospital Trust that had large Private Finance Initiative debts to pay off to the banks.
The courts found that the government had broken the law. So now the government is trying to change the law.
If they succeed, no hospital will be safe.
This is a very dangerous move which will put thousands of lives at risk.
The government should think again. We urge MPs from every party to work to scrap this Clause of the Care Bill – and not to vote for the Bill unless it is dropped. The Bill has already had its first reading in the Commons, and the signs are the government is going to try and rush it through in the next month or so.
MPs can, as a first step, sign the Early Day Motion 656 ‘Closure of NHS services’ which has been laid down, and already signed by a MPs from different parties – including Labour front benchers.
We would hope that every MP would be concerned that the Care Bill is being used to drastically reduce the rights of us, their constituents, to have a say in decisions about our local hospital provision. The hospital closure clause could be used to threaten hospital provision in any area. It is totally inappropriate to use the fast track ‘failure regime’ to reconfigure hospital provision more generally.
If services need redesigning the law must ensure this is with proper and extensive consultation with local people. This process cannot be rushed. Decisions should not be based on the needs of investment banks. What happened to the government promises that in the NHS there would be ‘no decision about me, without me’?