Tuesday 26 February 2013

Bombard the BBC, make them cover SI 257

In case you weren't aware, the Conservative led government are attempting to push through a secretive amendment to carve open the entire NHS to privatisation

Amendment SI 257, to impose mandatory marketisation on virtually all NHS services, is subject to the parliamentary procedure of ‘negative resolution’, which means that it requires absolutely no parliamentary discussion or vote before it becomes law on the 1st of April 2013.

I've already written a blog post explaining how this insidious piece of legislation will end up forcing NHS commissioners to put price before patient care and how it demonstrates the outright lies the Conservatives told to the public and the Houses of Parliament during the passage of the controversial 2012 Health and Social Care Bill. At the end of the article it also provides some suggestions on how you can help to stop this anti-democratic assault on the NHS. If you haven't already, please check that out here.

One of the things that has really struck me is that despite social media being in uproar about this, and limited coverage in a few mainstream publications like the Guardian. The BBC has not covered this story at all.

Now cynics might point to the fact that the Chairman of the BBC Trust (Chris Patten) is a Tory Lord with financial interests in the private health sector and that the Chief political editor at the BBC (Nick Robinson) is a former president of the Oxford University Conservative Association and served as national chairman of the Young Conservatives. The cynic might easily conclude that the BBC are not covering the story out of political bias.

Another potential narrative is that the BBC have been castrated. They were always afraid to criticise the government of the day, simply because they rely heavily on continued funding, which depends on government decisions. However since the Labour party deposed the BBC top brass over the Andrew Gilligan accusations that Blair and Campbell had been "sexing up" the Iraq dossier to hype up Saddam Hussain's WMD's, they have behaved like a bunch of timid geldings.

Others may counter the narratives that the BBC are biased in favour of the government or that they are cowed into subservience, by saying that "perhaps they just haven't heard about this story?". It's pretty difficult to imagine how this story of enormous national importance has passed them by, given the huge uproar on social media and the fact that they have scores of political journalists and dozens more specialising in health matters.

Never mind how they've managed to collectively miss it so far, they may have been collectively avoiding Twitter and Facebook for all we know. 

In order that it is impossible for them to pretend that they don't know about it, I believe we must now contact the BBC to ensure that they certainly do know about it and demand that they give this story the headline coverage it deserves.

Emails & Contact forms
What to write
Please take the time to draft your own letter, since individual letters are much less easy to ignore than hundreds of copies of the same template letter. Here are some tips on what to include in your letter:
  • Firstly, remember to be polite. Rude or abusive letters will do nothing but harden the stance of the recipient against the point you're trying to make.
  • Be sure to mention amendment SI 257 to Section 75 of the 2012 Health and Social Care Bill.
  • Explain that this amendment opens up virtually all NHS services to privatisation.
  • Point out that this amendment is not subject to parliamentary scrutiny, nor a democratic vote.
  • Tell them that unless something is done to stop the amendment to marketise the NHS before April 1st, it will become law.
  • Point out that the legislation will legally require NHS commissioners to put cost considerations ahead of the best interests of patients.
  • Point out that this amendment shows up the fact that the Tories repeatedly lied to parliament and the public about the 2012 Health and Social Care Bill not being designed to "marketise" the NHS (here's an example of then Health Minister Andrew Lansley lying to Parliament - "There is absolutely nothing in the Bill that promotes or permits the transfer of NHS activities to the private sector" - 13 March 2012 Hansard)
  • Be sure to mention the two petitions with over 100,000 signatories between them: Petition 1, Petition 2 
  • Tell them that you believe that the marketisation of the NHS is a story of undeniable national interest.
    Conclude by asking them why there has been no BBC coverage to date and whether they intend to do anything to rectify their lack of coverage.
  • Ask them to respond to your concerns.
Contact details
BBC Formal complaints: click here 

BBC feedback form: Click here
BBC News website: Contact form

BBC Trust: trust.enquiries@bbc.co.uk
Daily Politics show: daily.politics@bbc.co.uk
Sunday Politics show: sundaypolitics@bbc.co.uk

What to write
 You are limited to 140 characters on Twitter so you'll have to be concise.
Contact details

Nick Robinson (chief political editor): @bbcnickrobinson 
Fergus Walsh (chief medical correspondent): @BbcFergusWalsh
Steve Herrmann (Editor, BBC News Online): @BBCSteveH
BBC Politics: @BBCPolitics
BBC Health News: @BBCHealth 
Newsnight: @BBCNewsnight
Politics on Radio 4: @r4politics 
BBC Democracy Live: @BBCdemlive
BBC Have Your Say: @BBC_HaveYourSay
Allegra Stratton (Newsnight political editor): @BBCAllegra
Robbie Gibb (editor, Daily& Sunday politics): @RobbieGibb 
Andrew Neil (politics presenter): @AFNeil 
Norman Smith (BBC News chief political correspondent): @BBCNormanS
John Peinaar (chief political correspondent, Radio 5): @JPonPolitics

Chris Mason (political correspondent): @ChrisMasonBBC
Tim Reid (political correspondent): @TimReidBBC
Nick Triggle (health correspondent): @Nick Triggle

Jane Dreaper (health correspondent): @JaneDreaper
Branwen Jeffreys (health correspondent): @branwenjeffreys

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