Dear friend of the NHS,
You may be interested in donating to take an independent legal action started by doctors but ultimately involving all interested parties. We are challenging the imposition of an unplanned and dangerous contract which will affect patient wellbeing and safety. Without your support we cannot get this case off the ground. Last May, the government was elected with a manifesto that pledged a seven-day NHS: an aim that the medical profession wholeheartedly agrees with. The electorate trusted and expected this policy to have been fully researched and costed. Indeed, the Francis report following the Mid Staffordshire hospital crisis makes it very clear that:
“Before a proposal for any major structural change to the healthcare system is accepted, an impact and risk assessment should be undertaken by the DH and should be debated publicly.”
It is now evident that this has not taken place within the Department of Health, let alone debated publicly:
A leaked Department of Health report from January 2016 states that an additional 11,000 staff and £900M p.a. will be needed (after “benefits such as reduced length of stay and reduction admissions”), and that even then it is uncertain that this “will translate into lower mortality and reduced length of stay”.
At a Public Accounts Committee hearing on 23 February 2016, the lack of planning was brutally exposed. As David Mowat, Conservative MP, put it: “I am surprised that you can put this [7 day NHS] policy in place without having some idea of the implication for staffing levels … or, indeed, for cost and budget”.
Chillingly, given the recent crisis at Mid Staffordshire hospital, the respondents at the Public Accounts Committee suggested that existing cost overruns were because hospital trusts “took quality to be more important than cost”. The risks to patient safety of not properly funding a significant expansion of services are crystal clear.
The NHS is already stretched. There are more than 6,200 doctor vacancies and 23,400 nursing vacancies today. Growing demand means an additional £30B are required by 2020-21 just to provide existing services, according to the NHS’ own figures. The £10B the government has promised will not cover this, let alone a seven-day NHS. Spending money on seven-day NHS will therefore mean not spending money on evidence-based services, like cancer treatments.
The only means left to ensure the government conduct a proper assessment of the potential risks to patient safety of pursuing their seven-day NHS policy is to investigate a Judicial Review claim on the basis so that judges can review the legality of the high handed actions of the Secretary of State. This is a legal process where a party, in this case the government, must provide evidence to substantiate
the legality of their decisions as well as the process they have deployed in reaching those decisions.
We have instructed Bindmans LLP, experts in this area, to investigate potential legal action for us. They have already dedicated much time and effort pro bono. In order to move forwards we need a preliminary fund of £25,000 aimed to establish a working case fund in the region of £250,000. This will be done through CrowdJustice, who review applications and ensure the funds raised are spent appropriately.
We need to provide for several eventualities: research work towards a judicial review as to the lawfulness of the decision of the Secretary of State; involvement in negotiations with the union and employers; commissioning our own expert evidence to comment on the evidence as well as costs protection against us.
We will be launching a high profile fundraising campaign this Sunday 13th March 2016. In advance of that, we would like to have funds committed to go in on the launch day, to get us off to a flying start. Any donation, no matter how big or small, would be hugely welcome. We would also appreciate any help you can offer us in advertising and promoting our fundraising campaign.
How to donate: https://www.crowdjustice.co.uk/case/nhs/
How to spread the message:
Forward this request to any potential parties you feel may be interested.
Thank you for considering our request, and for your ongoing support for the NHS. We have an opportunity to hold the government to account for it’s actions regarding the NHS, we would urge you to use it.
Dr. Benjamin White BSc(Hons) MBBS MRCP
Dr. Nadia Masood MBBS FRCA
Dr. Fran Silman MA(Oxon) MBBS
Dr. Marie-Estella McVeigh MBBS BSc(Hons)