Health unions will join campaigners today (11 March) in Westminster to raise their concerns about government proposals to fast-track hospital closures through a controversial clause in the Care Bill.
Unions involved in the TUC’s All Together for the NHS campaign are supporting a rally on College Green as MPs meet to debate the Bill as it enters its final stages in the House of Commons.
Clause 119 of the Care Bill – which has come to be known as the hospital closure clause – will give new powers to trust special administrators who take over failing NHS trusts. It will allow them to recommend the fast track closure and downgrading of neighbouring hospitals as part of a restructuring of services across a whole region.
Health unions argue this means that high performing and financially sustainable NHS trusts could face closure simply because they are in close proximity to another trust in financial distress.
In addition unions are also concerned that under the new proposals consultation with clinical staff, commissioners, patients and the local community will be greatly reduced.
Ministers added the clause to the Care Bill in the House of Lords as a reaction to the defeat in the courts of the government's proposal to close services at Lewisham Hospital in an attempt to deal with wider problems with the South London NHS Trust.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “If this Bill becomes law, well-performing and popular hospitals will be at risk of having their services shut down without their agreement and without proper consultation with staff, commissioners, patients and the public.
“We’re calling on MPs to abide by their commitment to put patients and clinical staff at the heart of decision-making within the NHS and oppose the government’s ill-thought out hospital closure clause.”