Kat Boettge writes Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is planning to give himself the power to close A&E Departments without full consultation. Earlier this year his attempt to close the A&E Department at Lewisham Hospital was ruled to be illegal. In response, he has added a clause to the Care Bill that is already before Parliament to give him the power to close hospital departments or to order the withdrawal of services.
Hunt has lost twice over Lewisham. After his initial attempt to close the A&E Department was ruled to be illegal he appealed, and again he lost. So now he is resorting to changing the law to suit himself. Not, it should be noted, in an open way, but by sneaking in a clause at the last minute to the Care Bill, that has nothing to do with the reorganisation or privatisation of the NHS but is, strangely enough, about the provision of Care. It would seem that Hunt thinks a good way to deliver Care to vulnerable people is to take powers to close hospitals.
If this clause is passed by Parliament then the Government will have the power to close any NHS service or even a hospital without proper consultation. The Government is claiming that they need these powers to streamline the NHS. I do not believe this. I say that the real motive is to accelerate privatisation by withdrawing essential services so as to force people to turn to the private sector.
Following the Government’s defeat over the Lewisham hospital, Caroline Lucas tabled an Early Day Motion in the Commons to draw attention to the Hunt amendment to the Care Bill that aims to give a Government appointed administrator the powers to close NHS services. If the Coalition Government gets these powers, then they will be able to close hospitals simply to save costs and so hit their financial targets. No consideration will be given to local needs or to the advice of Doctors.
So much for the ConDem’s claims to be listening to the local community. Their much trumpeted support of localism is as much a sham as their claims to be the ‘Greenest Government ever’. But also it is shocking that only 37 MP’s have signed Caroline Lucas’s EDM. It seems that they, like most of the public, are unaware of Jeremy Hunt’s hospital closure plan.
The country desperately needs more Green MP’s and MEP’s to work for the common good of all, and not for the vested interests that influence most of our current MP’s. We, the people, must act now to stop this reckless amendment or wake up to find our local NHS services being closed down.
What can you do?
- Sign the petition from 38 Degrees to Jeremy Hunt and circulate it widely. https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/hospital-closure-clause
- Write a letter to your local paper using the information above.
- Lobby your MP and ask them to sign Caroline’s EDM number 656, ‘Closure of NHS Services’. It can be seen here: http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2013-14/656
From Kat Boettge Green Spokesperson for Social Care