3 things you can do to stop the Health Bill

Dear friends,

Three things you can do now to help the campaign against the Health and Social Care Bill:

1. Lobby the Lords. Its still worth writing to the Lords who are still scrutinising and trying to amend the bill. They are doing this without access to the governments risk register and some are not at all happy about that. David Owen told one of our supporters recently that Lords are so unused to getting letters that even a dozen or so on a topic makes a big impression. The balance in the House of Lords is held by the cross bench Lords who have no party allegiance and are therefore more open to persuasion. The Conservative and Lib Dem Lords amount to 258 and the Labour Lords to 238, but there are 153 cross bench Lords. So its worth writing to them as well as the bishops I attach a list of cross bench Lib Dem Lords and Bishops  Some of these are just email addresses but if you google the email address you get the name of the Lord. I suggest you choose a Lord whose surname starts with the same initial as yours, and one or two on either side, as a way of distributing them.

For most impact:
post the letter, don’t email it. The address is House of Lords SW1A OPW.
keep it short and to the point make it personal – relate it to your work or your area in some way. Key issues could be: risk; cost; conflicts of interest; constitutional issues (see Allyson Pollock’s website for her parliamentary briefings on this issue)

Legislation can be defeated or fundamentally amended in the Lords – its happened before and could happen again. Or it could fail because it runs out of time.

2. Please sign the petition https://submissions.epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/22670  Dr Kailash Chand, a GP in the north of England has started a government email petition. If it gets 100,000 it forces a debate in parliament but just s importantly it will get big publicity for the cause. The petition took off initially but this has slowed down now and we need a new wave of spreading the petition. I think it needs to be sent to people who you may not previously have thought about , to widen the circle. I am going to send it to 10 such people , including my elderly aunt who lives in another part of the country who has dozens of friends who will be very concerned about the possible risks to the NHS and to my daughter with hundreds of facebook friends, and ask them to send it to at least 10 other people and so on. I attach a short document with 5 key reasons for opposing the bill which you could send to people who may not be aware of the issues.

3. Would all of you who are BMA members please consider emailing Hamish Meldrum welcoming the decision to oppose the bill and have a public campaign and urging him to start the campaign now, as time is running out. His email address is hmeldrum@bma.org.uk 10 days ago BMA Council passed a motion to change its position to one of opposition to the Health and Social care Bill and to rapidly organize a public campaign against the bill.

This is good news as we believe there is still time to defeat the bill if all the forces which are opposed could work in concert in one big push over the next few weeks, especially if we alert the public to it as unfortunately so few members of the public really understand what’s at stake. That’s where the BMA’s public campaign could have a huge impact.

It could do some or all of the following: press conferences, public meetings and rallies, leaflets, posters and postcards for patients to send to MPs, media (including electronic) campaign etc.

But it depends on the BMA leadership, especially the chair Hamish Meldrum, committing effort and resources to making it happen. Unfortunately 10 days have passed and we’ve heard virtually nothing, This is similar to what happened when BMA Council passed a motion in July to have a public campaign. It never happened.

by Dr Louise Irvine

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