Friday, 23 March 2012

The cuts get going . Where do we head when the decisions have been taken

At the start of the year, I said that the key priority was to protect the NHS. Now that the vote in parliament has consigned its fate, what hope for the future?

There is a need to learn from the last few months and to identify how the campaign could have worked better. Over 2012 so far there have been game changing campaigns that have really hit hard, although perhaps the anti-cuts campaign that commanded the most diverse and most emotive support, it failed to be as joined up as it could and was all the time competing with campaigns about Welfare reform and legal aid.

Here there is a well argued analysis of the weaknesses of the campaign by Dr John Lister from London Health Emergency. Critically highlights the future direction of the campaign as campaigning for a NHS Restoration Act, and a commitment to stop the squeeze and pump new funds into the NHS."

With the Legal Aid and Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders bill (LASPO) rearing its head in the commons after stimulating a number of government defeats in the Lords there are more calls for further campaign action.

In the Lords, government defeats include:

· Protection of access to legal aid for all victims of domestic violence

· Keeping legal aid clinical negligence cases where the negligence occurs around birth

· Keeping legal aid for welfare benefit appeals and reviews and for onward appeals to the higher tribunal and courts in welfare benefit cases

· Ensuring the Independence of the Director of Legal Aid Casework

· Rejection of a telephone gateway

A real issue for Northamptonshire with 2843 affected just from the legal aid proposals. However in all the cacophony of the justice for all and Sounds off for justice campaign, where’s the support for discrimination advice. I wrote a guest blog post about it here. Regrettably it still seems an issue that there are too few voices shouting for. A service that is needed for when things go wrong in situations that people really believe will not happen to them. As with other cuts, - You’ll miss it when it’s gone.