Get the full report;


Earlier in the summer, 3,652 – 38 Degrees members from across the UK donated to pay for a legal team to get to the bottom of Andrew Lansley’s plans for our NHS.

For two months our independent legal team has been hard at work examining the government’s NHS plans.

This page summarises all they’ve found – it’s grim reading. If you want to find out more you can download the entire legal advice in the right hand column. Once you’ve read it don’t forget to email your MP and urge them to take action to save our NHS
In July 2011, 38 Degrees members donated to fund independent legal advice on the implications of the government’s proposals to change the NHS in England. 38 Degrees engaged Harrison Grant solicitors and the specialist barristers Stephen Cragg and Rebecca Haynes to give their legal opinions on two aspects of the Health and Social Care Bill: The removal of Secretary of State for Health’s Duty to provide or secure provision of NHS services and the impact of competition and procurement law on the NHS.

This document summarises some key findings. The full legal opinions and executive summaries are available to download in the right-hand column.


What our lawyers have identified within the Health and Social Care Bill:

The bill will remove the duty of the Secretary of State to provide or secure the provision of health services which has been a common and critical feature of all previous NHS legislation since 1946. This is the means by which Parliament ensures the NHS delivers what the public want and expect. Furthermore, a “hands-off clause” will severely curtail the Secretary of State’s ability to influence the delivery of NHS care to ensure everyone receives the best healthcare possible.

What this could all mean:

No longer a National Health Service
The duty, that Parliament has given the Health Secretary, for ensuring that the NHS provides the service that people need will be lost and the NHS will from here on in simply be little more than a series of quasi-independent commissioning entities and providers, basically free to get on with the job

Loss of Accountability – The Government washes its hands of the NHS
Removing the Secretary of State’s legal duty to provide or secure provision of health services, and introducing a “hands-off clause”, significantly reduces democratic accountability for the NHS. The responsibility for securing the provision of healthcare services will lie with unelected commissioners who will only be accountable to an unelected national quango. The bill will make it impossible for the Secretary of State to direct that certain services are available and difficult for the Secretary of State to step in if these groups deliver poor healthcare to the local community. These changes would shift the main responsibility to unelected officials, representatives of private companies and GPs.

Loss of Accountability – Local representatives and health watchdogs lose their right to appeal
Because the Government is removing the Secretary of State’s duty to ensure the NHS delivers an appropriate service, appeals from locally elected council bodies and health watchdogs will no longer be decided by the Secretary of State but – if any rights of appeal survive – by a national quango.

Postcode lottery
Because of changes in the bill there is a real risk of an increase in the “postcode lottery” nature of the delivery of some NHS services. The power to choose what health services are closed or improved in a local area will be passed on to local unelected bodies with little scope for the government to intervene. This will mean patients can no longer expect the government to ensure a consistent level of healthcare regardless of where they live.
38 Degrees NHS Legal Advice