Why We Must Oppose Clause 118 of the Care Bill

By the Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign.

As you know the coalition government recently lost a legal battle to close our thriving and solvent Lewisham Hospital when a totally separate nearby hospital was suffering financial problems, largely due to unaffordable PFI payments. What the government could not lawfully do in Lewisham they are now attempting to do across England by changing the law, rushing through Clause 118 as part of the Care Bill.
Clause118
As you are also aware Clause 118, the ‘hospital closure clause’, gives sweeping powers, without full local consultation, to close any other English hospital deemed to be failing. No English hospital will be safe from closures – the government will be able to use whatever definition of “failing” that they choose. Hospitals of course are already under pressure and further closures will be likely to leave fewer – and poorer – services. Experience shows that a rushed process twists facts, trashes services and disrupts relationships essential to good services

Clause 118 is a real threat to our democratic NHS. If the clause became law a manager from outside a given area will be able to draw up a plan across many boroughs rearranging many hospitals and community services. This will mean that: Local GP commissioning groups can be simply overruled by the bureaucracy and there will be no consultation with Local Authorities. Under the TSA regime there is no requirement to consult the local population, and there is only a requirement to have one public meeting.

We believe a nation-wide campaign to stop this Clause becoming law is imperative. We are therefore urging that as many people in your area as possible write to their MP to demand they vote against Clause 118 of the Care Bill. People can also ask their MP to sign the Early Day Motion 656 ‘Closure of NHS services’ which has already been signed by MPs from different parties. The site for people to find and write to their MP is: https://www.writetothem.com.

Hugh Shrapnel (from the Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign

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