Thursday, October 13, 2011

Save the NHS campaign

Update from "38 Degrees" - Save the NHS campaign                                                                           

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"This is certainly disappointing. But over the last few days the 38 Degrees petition had a real impact, bringing the concerns of the public into the chamber of the House of Lords. It is not over yet. The legislative process will take several more months. It won't be easy but there's still a chance we can secure changes."
Lord David Owen, proposer of the amendment for a special scrutiny committee

It was close, but we lost the vote. 262 Lords voted in favour of a special scrutiny committee for the dangerous NHS plans. 330 voted against. If just 35 more Lords had voted the right way, we would have won.

Over 150,000 of us signed the emergency petition, in just 24 hours. It was all over the news. [1] Many Lords and Baronesses mentioned us in their speeches as they pledged to vote the right way. Lord Hunt stood up to announce how many of us had signed the petition and said: "That is but one small reflection of widespread concern within the community about the NHS." [2]

All across the UK we were crossing our fingers - could this be our breakthrough moment? But it wasn’t our day. The government managed to twist just enough arms for their plans to move forward to the next stage.

It’s nowhere near over yet. Lansley's NHS plans still have to pass several more crucial stages in the House of Lords. There will be more crunch votes and more breakthrough opportunities in the next three months. [3] One 38 Degrees member, Yvonne, summed it up on the 38 Degrees Facebook page:

“We may have lost the battle, but we have not lost the war!”

Here's what some other 38 Degrees members have been saying since the news came in:

Anthony: “Keep the spirit up, everything is possible.”
Emily: "Let’s see if we can facilitate LOCAL protests (not just the big city ones)."
Ivy: "Please people, keep campaigning, we mustn't lose this jewel in our crown."
Ann: "It seems there were about 150+ peers who did not vote; I wonder why and maybe we could target these next time?"
Adam: “The best option is for us to continue campaigning. There may be more amendments during the committee stage and third reading.”
Julie: “We have lost two battles but NOT the war...we actually got a lot of support from the cross benchers and some lib dems re supporting the Owen amendments, so the ground work has been done.”

You can join the conversation with other 38 Degrees members, and share your thoughts on lessons we've learned for next time, on the 38 Degrees Facebook page, on Twitter, or on the website.

In September, thousands of us helped write a people powered plan to influence the House of Lords. [4] Then thousands of us donated the money needed to get it started. [5] Really, we've only just started putting that plan into action – and we're already only 35 Lords short of a big breakthrough.

We did not have that breakthrough this week. But we saw that our strategy can work and we still have time to do more. We can send more messages, sign more petitions, pay for more briefings from legal experts and organise more local campaign events. We can work together to come up with new ideas for people powered tactics.If we keep going, there's a real chance we can change an extra 35 Lords' minds before the final votes in a few months' time.

Some Lords, particularly Liberal Democrats, said they wouldn't vote in favour of a special scrutiny committee because it was unnecessary. They claimed it will be possible to address 38 Degrees members' concerns by following the standard House of Lords procedure. [6] Now, we're going to have to do all we can to make them keep their word on this – it certainly isn't the time to give up!

We've done an incredible amount to sound the alarm about the threats our NHS is facing, and highlight all the reasons why having a public health service is one of the things Britain should be most proud of. It's obviously a bit depressing that yesterday's vote went the wrong way. But the fight is nowhere near over.

Dr Clare Gerada, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, contacted the office after the vote with this message for all of us: "Members of 38 Degrees have played an important role in speaking up for our NHS and highlighting concerns. Today's vote is by no means the end of the story, keep going!"

So let's keep going,

David, Hannah, Becky, Marie, Johnny, Cian and the 38 Degrees team

PS: One of the really exciting things to happen this week was that over 30,000 more people joined the Save Our NHS campaign. There are now well over half a million people involved. The more of us there are, the more we can do together and the bigger the impact we can have. You can help the campaign grow even bigger by forwarding emails like this to all your friends and asking them to get involved.

PPS: Andrew Lansley was expecting his changes to have been finalised 6 months ago. And together we've already reined in some of the very worst bits of Lansley’s plans. Click here for a quick recap of some of the things we have done together so far to protect the NHS:

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