The NHS is not a pie

If we were Americans this would be Pi Day. As we are British and write our dates in the proper order, Pi Day is on 22nd July: 22/7, which is more accurate anyway by a fraction of 1/3047. That matters if you have a big pie, and the NHS is a very, very big pie.

Pie NHS logo

From Doctor Eoin Clarke’s blog, The Green Benches:

Lord Owen, the leading opponent of the NHS Bill in the House of Lords will attempt one last deed to slow the passage of this NHS Bill. He has introduced an amendment (here) into the House of Lords that the entire NHS Bill be paused until the NHS Risk Register is published. This is because Lord Owen is fearful that the risks contained within the report are so grave that they should be considered and debated first, before the bill proceeds. We need you to contact the Lib Dem peers and ask them to support Lord Owen’s amendment.

The vote will take place on Monday. There’s a gadget at the Green Benches to auto-email all of the LibDem peers, but I really prefer WriteToThem because that site monitors which peers respond to what you wrote – and also by default sends the message by fax, which means that your letter arrives at their office on paper (unless they are set up to handle emails and have told mySociety to have people email them). Paper letters are treated more seriously than emails, especially when emails are sent in large numbers with the same wording.

Update: But you can only use Write To Them for six peers every two days!
From Write To Them Lords faq:

How many Lords can I write to?

Quite a few, but don’t try and write to loads. You see, they’ve only got this one fax machine, and we don’t want to overwhelm it. The Parliament website gives more details about different ways to contact Lords, and the different limits on sending bulk messages to all Lords.

We also very aggressively prevent copy-and-pasted messages to Lords. This is because the House of Lords throw away bulk sent faxes, so it is a waste of time. Do not tell people to copy and paste letters to Lords, get them to write in their own words. See our Guidelines for campaigning for more information on this.

So there you go. If you have further updates about the *’d peers, let me know.]

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The letter I wrote:

I have been following the progress of the Health and Social Care Bill through Parliament with great concern.

Although I live in Scotland, where the NHS will not be subject to the “reforms” of this Bill, it seems to me that such a radical breakdown of the NHS is bound to affect the whole of the UK – and will certainly have knock-on effects for Scots (and Welsh) travelling or temporarily staying in England.

I am by no means a wholehearted supporter of independence. In fact, I’ve tended to feel that devolution suits us very well – works for all four of the nations within the UK. But the strongest factor impelling me to consider a “Yes” vote in autumn 2014 is the awful breakdown of the institutions which the UK has created – and chief among them all, the NHS.

I do not feel that devolution can shield us forever – while the NHS is devolved, the principle that the best treatment should be available at need means that Scottish patients have gone to English specialists. And while the government have refused to publish the Risk Register, veto’ing the decision of the Information Commissioner and the Information Tribunal, and ignoring the strong concerns expressed by NHS staff and by the general public, the Bill is so chaotic and so badly expressed that it’s really difficult to impossible to figure out how badly it will damage our NHS.

National Patient Safety Agency For example, I see that the Bill abolishes the National Patient Safety Agency. What effect will that have on the quality of patient care?

On Monday Lord Owen intends to propose an amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill: the amendment will call on this Bill to be paused, until the Department of Health publishes the NHS Risk Register.

I have been told by supporters of the Bill that it’s ridiculous to suppose that the changes to the NHS in England could affect healthcare for Scots travelling in England or requiring specialist care only available from a limited number of hospitals. But these supporters know no more than I: none of us have been allowed to see the Risk Register.

But the plain fact is, if Scotland became independent, we would travel in England with EHIC cards and receive NHS-supported care to the standard we expect: whereas with devolution, we run the same risks that the English must. And we don’t know what they are. We’ll find out as they happen. Given the unified opposition of health professionals to this Bill, at all levels of the NHS, I fear the worst.

In the interests of openness and transparency, please support Lord Owen’s motion.

The potential risks of such fundamental reform to our health infrastructure and to the United Kingdom itself are too appalling not to be given due consideration before the bill becomes law.

Yours sincerely

(my real name)

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If you want to use WriteToThem to lobby a peer, the simplest method is to use a place with which the peer is associated. Herewith a list of places and their LibDem peers.

  • Aberdeen: Lord Addington*; Lord Mackie*;
  • Belfast: Lord Alderdice of Knock;
  • Berkshire: Baroness Nicholson*;
  • Berriew: Lord Carlile;
  • Brighton: Lord Dholakia*;
  • Cambridge: Lord Clement-Jones; Lord Dykes; Lord Ezra; Lord Goodhart; Lord Methuen; Lord Phillips; Baroness Sharp; Lord Thomas of Gresford; Lord Wallace Of Saltaire; Lord Watson of Richmond;
  • Clackmannanshire: The Earl of Mar and Kellie;
  • Cheltenham: Lord Jones;
  • Congresbury: Lord Cotter;
  • Cornwall: Lord Teverson;
  • Devon: Lord Burnett;
  • Edinburgh: Lord Steel of Aikwood;
  • Hampshire: Lord Sandberg;
  • Kent: Baroness Falkner; Lord Rodgers;
  • Kirkhope: Lord Kirkwood;
  • Liverpool: Lord Rennard; Baroness Walmsley;
  • London: Baroness Garden; Baroness Hamwee; Lord Lester; Baroness Linklater; Baroness Ludford; Lord McNally; Lord Tope;
  • Manchester: Lord Alliance; Lord Tordoff;
  • Northumberland: Lord Redesdale;
  • Norton-sub-Hamdon: Lord Ashdown;
  • Oxford: Lord Avebury; Lord Greaves; Lord Maclennan; Baroness Miller; Baroness Northover; Lord Oakeshott; Lord Tyler; Lord Razzall; Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank; Lord Roper; Lord Taverne; Baroness Thomas of Walliswood; Lord Vallance; Baroness Williams;
  • Portsmouth: Lord Chidgey; Baroness Maddock;
  • Southampton: Baroness Barker;
  • Southport: Lord Fearn;
  • Suffolk: Baroness Scott;
  • Tankerness: Lord Wallace;
  • Trafford: Lord Lee;
  • Wales: Lord Hooson; Lord Roberts of Llandudno;
  • Wallingford: Lord Bradshaw;
  • Wiltshire: Baroness Bonham-Carter; Lord Sharman;
  • Winchester: Baroness Thomas;
  • Yorkshire: Baroness Harris; Lord Newby;

Topics can also be used where places are unavailable (when all else fails, look up the peer’s maiden speech and search for a relatively unusual word…)

  • Adlai: Lord Stoneham of Droxford
  • Batmanghelidjh: Baroness Doocey
  • Cappadocia: Lord Sharkey;
  • Cardiff: Baron German; Baroness Randerson;
  • COINS database: Lord Allan
  • Cypriot: Baroness Hussein-Ece;
  • Despatch Association: Viscount Falkland
  • Geordie: Lord Shipley;*
  • Godalming: Baroness Parminter;
  • Jane Austen: Baroness Tyler of Enfield
  • Kashmir: Lord Hussain;
  • Knowsley Walmsley: Baroness Sharp; Lord Storey; Baroness Williams;
  • Latchmere: Baroness Kramer;
  • Launceston: Baroness Jolly;
  • Lion, Garter: Lord Stephen;
  • Loomba: Lord Loomba;
  • reinvigorated Earl Howe: Lord Marks;
  • Spaniard Wigan: The Earl of Glasgow
  • Strasburgers: Lord Strasburger;
  • suffragette:: Baroness Brinton
  • Thomas Becket: Lord Willis of Knaresborough
  • Trinidadian: Baroness Benjamin;
  • uncontroversial Colindale: Lord Palmer of Childs Hill;
  • Widgery: Lord Smith of Clifton; Lord Shutt of Greetland; Lord Macdonald of River Glaven;

If all else fails: date of birth

  • 29 October: Lord Tyler

*=Message goes to central House of Lords fax machine – may be slow to deliver.
(This category is larger than at present appears: I’m adding * as WriteToThem lets me know.)

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Email addresses harvested from Liberal Democrat Peers/a> by Brian Moylan.

  • Lord Allan of Hallam: allanr@parliament.uk
  • Lord Avebury: ericavebury@gmail.com
  • Lord Dholakia: Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrat Peers: dholakian@parliament.uk
  • Lord German: Co-Chair of the Parliamentary Party Committee on Work and Pensions: germanm@parliament.uk
  • Lord Goodhart: goodhartw@parliament.uk
  • Baroness Hamwee: Co-Chair of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Party Committee on Home Affairs, Justice and Equalities (Home Office): hamwees@parliament.uk
  • Lord Lester of Herne Hill: lestera@parliament.uk
  • Baroness Ludford MEP: (MEP for London) office@sarahludfordmep.org.uk
  • Lord Maclennan of Rogart: Co-Chair of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Party Committee on Constitutional and Political Reform (Cabinet Office), Co-Chair of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Party Committee on Scotland: maclennanr@parliament.uk
  • Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: millers@parliament.uk
  • Lord Newby: Co-Chair of the Liberal Democrat Treasury Parliamentary Party Committee: newbyr@parliament.uk
  • Baroness Parminter: parminterk@parliament.uk
  • Lord Rennard: rennardc@parliament.uk
  • Baroness Scott of Needham Market: ros.scott@libdems.org.uk
  • SMTP Server rejected recipient (Error following RCPT command). It responded as follows: [550 5.1.1 User unknown]
    The attachment contains the original mail headers. Please verify recipient(s) mail addresses and try resending this message or contact your IT department with contents of this mail.

  • Baroness Sharp of Guildford: sharpm@parliament.uk
  • Lord Shipley: shipleyj@parliament.uk
  • Lord Stephen: stephenn@parliament.uk
  • Lord Tope: Co-Chair of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Party Committee on Communities and Local Government: graham.tope@sutton.gov.uk

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