Five ways you can still protect the NHS after the Bill


9:02 am - March 14th 2012

by Richard Blogger    


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The Health and Social Care Bill has almost passed. There will be quite a few government MPs who will rue this day since every possible ill in the NHS will now be pinned on them for passing a Bill that no one wanted.

Protecting our NHS is not achieved through marches or clicktivism (e-petitions or the like) it can only be carried out through getting involved.

Here are five ways you can do that:

1) Join a Trust and stand as governor as the NHS candidate.

All NHS acute and mental hospital trusts will have to be a Foundation Trust, or part of a Foundation Trust, by April 2014. Foundation Trusts are supposed to be run for the community. At the moment – and to a large extent – FTs only play lip service to the community.

You can, however, change this by getting involved and becoming a member. Socialist Health Association have collated a list of Foundation Trusts that have a national membership. 

As a member you will be able to speak at members meetings and the trust will have other mechanisms for you to get involved. After the Bill is passed, you’ll be able to ask the board questions.

Members can also stand to be governors. Governors have to approve the trust strategy and appoint the auditors. They also appoint non-executive directors, who have to justify their actions to the Council of Governors. The government says that before an FT can increase its private patient income over 5% it has to have the approval of the Council of Governors. However, governors should monitor the trust’s finances carefully and they should know if private patient income is increasing and challenge the board to guarantee that NHS patients are not affected.

2) Stand as the NHS candidate in council elections

If you are a councillor (district, county or unitary) then stand to be a member of the local Health and Wellbeing (HWB) Board. The HWB will be able to challenge local commissioners (Clinical Commissioning Groups – CCGs) on their commissioning decisions, including those that involve transferring NHS services to private companies.

If you intend to stand for election this May, then in your election leaflets indicate that if elected you will stand to be on the HWB as the NHS candidate, and that you’ll use this position to protect your local NHS facilities. When you are elected, and should you get on the HWB, you will have a mandate to ensure that the local CCGs use NHS providers.

3) Approach your local council and inquire about joining HealthWatch

HealthWatch are local organisations with a mandate to inspect local health and social care services. Local HealthWatch will be hosted by local councils and will be largely toothless. However, HW will put together reports on local services, which can be escalated to the national HealthWatch and CQC (Care Quality Commission). A HW member will also sit on the local HWB and can challenge commissioning decisions.

The toothless nature of HW is disappointing. However, what will be significant is that HW will have a mandate to inspect all providers which means that within HW there will be an immense amount of knowledge. This means that HW will be significant and influential in an advisory role (in particular, in advising local authorities).

4) Challenge CCG’s when they use the private sector

The NHS Bill says that there has to be patient involvement in commissioning. You will find that your local GP will have a patient participation group (if not, then it will have very soon).

This will enable you to be involved in the delivery of care at the GP: for example, you’ll be able to challenge the GP about surgery times or access to the surgery. If you are involved in the formulation of the CCG policy you can ensure that patients are consulted at all stages, on all commissioning decisions.

This is important because it means that patients could be involved early-on in the decision making so that if the CCG decides to use the private sector a patient involved in commissioning could make this public and spark a local debate. Further, you should also ensure that the CCG board have a regard to patient involvement (for example, mandatory attendance of patient groups) and have a defined route for patients to raise concerns to the board level.

5) Become a non-executive director at a Foundation Trust

Foundation Trusts and CCGs will have non-executive or lay members. In the case of FTs non-executive directors will be appointed by the governors; in the case of CCGs lay members of the board will be appointed by the CCG. The role of non-execs (NEDs) is to hold the executive board to account and to provide an independent voice on the board.

In general, NEDs will be professionals: people with experience of running a business or a large public organisation, or have a professional involvement like law or accountancy. The role is part-time (a few days a month) and usually pays just a small salary. However, as a NED or lay member you will be able to scrutinise the boards decisions, and challenge them if the board intend to use the private sector.

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About the author
Richard is a regular contributor. He blogs more frequently at Conservative Policies Dissected.
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Reader comments


1. ROBERT COOK

Nice idea,

But as a father of three under five with a full time job and an incapacitated wife there is no chance that I can commit to this line of supporting the NHS.

So I think it a bit trite to just dismiss e-petitions and the like.
1. I cannot currently see any other method that I can use than the numerous e-petitions etc (although I do regurlarly e-mail my MP too)

2. There are so many people out there that live their life on the net that these still do get messages across to people that would not necessarily pick up on this.

There needs to be a balance and ONLY getting involved as you have suggested above will not work for all and sundry,

2. the a&e charge nurse

The fundamental problem as I see it is that ALL the main political parties are committed to a market in health care – the only thing that varies slightly is the language, and the way such developments are spun.

Very Big Society…

@1

But as a father of three under five with a full time job and an incapacitated wife there is no chance that I can commit to this line of supporting the NHS.

I understand your reticence, but I am not suggesting doing this full time. For example, as an FT governor your statutory duties are to attend four meetings a year (typically half a day each). That ain’t much. (Some FT governors contribute more, but you don’t have to.) NEDs work a couple of days a month.

My point is to get into a position of influence. This is particularly important with CCGs at the moment because they are desperate to become authorised by April 2013 and this is a complex process and no one has a clue how to do it. (Seriously, CCGs are making it up as they go along, Lansley has created a total mess.) A little bit of effort now (a couple of afternoons a month) could mean setting up CCGs that actually do put patients first, and hence patients can protect their NHS.

So I think it a bit trite to just dismiss e-petitions and the like.
1. I cannot currently see any other method that I can use than the numerous e-petitions etc (although I do regurlarly e-mail my MP too)

Unfortunately automated emails go straight into MPs email trash (they are really easy to identify). If you want to influence your MP it is far better to write them a letter on paper. Or go to their constituency surgeries. Another access is through councillors, and you can usually get their phone numbers and talk to them personally. If a subject keeps being raised with councillors it soon gets escalated to the MP.

There needs to be a balance and ONLY getting involved as you have suggested above will not work for all and sundry,

Clicktivism hasn’t had an effect on the health bill has it? Remember that the drop the bill e-petition has got the highest number of signatories of any of the e-petitions, yet the backbench committee refused to grant it a debate (yesterday’s debate was one of Labour’s opposition day debates, which is not the same).

Clicktivism has its place, we now have to move on to real action.

The entire process of the National Health Service Reforms should be challenged in a court of law because it looks very fraudulant for the following reasons :

Before the general election David Cameron said/promised that if a Conservative government came to power there would be no root and branch changes of the National Health Service.

Before the general election David Cameron said/promised that if he became primeMinister he would only financially ring fence and protect the National Health Service and only that.

The National Health Service Reforms were not in the Conservative Party manifesto so voters could safely believe/assume that David Cameron was keeping to his word/promise.

Within weeks of getting into Downing Street the National Health Service Reforms were sprung upon the British people as a Major policy/taske that was going to be one of the biggest changes ever taken on by any government regarding a national asset.

How can such a major change be when it was not even in their manifesto. People were denied the right to know the truth or anything about such a big change only a few weeks ago during the general election.

If David Cameron had of went to the electorate during the 2010 general election saying that they had intentions of breaking up and privatizing the National Health Service he would not be in Downing Street today and ( he Knows It ! )

The evidence is that David Cameron and many others within the Conservative Party always had a secret Agenda before and during the general election campaign 2010 to break up and privatize the National Health Service.

So it is clear that David Cameron told a pack of outright bare-faced lies before and during the election campaign to the entire population of the United Kingdom.

To me this is the behaviour of a criminal/criminals to decieve and lie. This is not a small matter because they knew what they were saying and doing and decieved an entire nation.

The electorate voted under false pretences. Cameron lied to achieve something. There are many people that will gain financially out of this and those people should be investigated. In fact the way in which the National Health Service reforms have come about have been done in a totally deceitful, dishonest way exposing lies throughout.

If a common criminal sold or done something to you/us in such a way, you would be able to have them arrested and investigated.

I believe because there has been so much dishonesty, deceit and lies regarding the National Health Service Reforms someone should call for a thorough in depth investigation (root & branch) investigation to establish whether the entire process from before, during and after the general election is legal and above board because the way in which all this has come about stinks rotten.

What David Cameron and others have done is dishonest and wrong. The entire nation has been conned regarding a matter that is so important to every single person in this country and it concerns our health.

What I was trying to say is that someone should bring about an investigation and whilst that is undertaken the National Health Service Reforms should be halted until the investigation is completed.

To lie for gain is Fraud ! This law should also apply to polticians or at the least they should be denied what they have tried to achieve/get through the use of deceit and lies or any other dishonst means.

5,6,7 – Nice try, but Labour went to court to demonstrate that manifestos are not legally binding documents. If you can’t sue a political party for breaking a specific manifesto commitment, then you definitely can’t sue them for doing something that wasn’t in the manifesto.

Tim J @8

So basically what you are saying is that Politicians have a license to lie.

That puts them above the law, it is no wonder that they are bending over backwards to get into government/power. They are laughing and it is their road to further richness/wealth. You could call it legalized criminality..

Mr A. James,

I think you may be confused as to the purpose of the law – it is not to enforce correct behaviour, but to enforce compliance with acts of parliament.

The agency that will enforce correct behaviour in politicians is the electorate, who can decide for themselves whether they have been lied to or not. Your analysis is actually stating that judges are more important than the electorate – the judiciary themselves have clearly stated this is not the case in refusing to consider the problem of broken manifesto pledges.

It should also be pointed out that under your ideas, no politician could vote for something they had not said they would vote for in their manifesto. This might sound attractive, but means that politicians could not be persuaded to change their minds, so campaigning would be pointless, and that they would have to vote for things that had become manifestly wrong. At least with the electorate we can exercise some judgement about whether the voting record was correct.

Can anybody posting to this site suggest how the corrupt self serving scum that sit in Westminster can be brought to heel?
Certainly, voting can’t do it.
It is impossible to have any faith in the ballot box, let alone the police, judiciary, politicians; local or national or indeed any office or department of state.
In varying degrees they are all either incompetent and or corrupt.

Barrie,

May I suggest a revolution, with the formation of a government of the proleteriat. That should work…

Otherwise, perhaps stand yourself, as you are clearly not corrupt and have a noble cause. If you can perceive the problems in our current generation of politicians, then you should have no trouble exposing them after all.

13. Mr A James

Hi there Watchman @ 10

I dont disagree with what you say but I thought that the Law was there to protect people from this sort of behaviour.

This is only an example : The Law did not protect the people from hitler in Germany.

Watchman

Cynicism: an extension of ennui maintaining that not only are you bored, you are in a state of disbelief as well. And you cannot be convinced otherwise….. more than a pose: it’s also a handy time saver.
By deflating your companion’s enthusiasm, you can cut conversations in half.
What an absolute joy it must be to spend time in your company?

15. the a&e charge nurse

Serco and Virgin fight for the heart and minds of Devon’s children
http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/mar/15/devon-nhs-childrens-services-privatisation

16. Mr A James

I know eight people that intend changing their internet provider as a protest.


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