You may have noticed Clause 118 has morphed into Clause 119.
This is just window dressing. As so often happens in Parliament amendments are made as legislation moves through both Houses and clauses are re-numbered. This has happened here and the changes are superficial but play their role because politicians can say 'we have listened to you and made some vital changes so please vote for this now'. NHS campaigners have studied the amendments and believe they make no real difference to this 'hospital closure clause'.
The reason hospitals are in financial trouble are twofold. One is due to the completely unnecessary £20bn cuts to the NHS budget we are seeing between 2010-2015 - the so called 'Nicholson Challenge'. Secondly hospitals are crippled by PFI debt - in effect huge mortgage payments that they have to pay to private developers sometimes for periods of 30 years. This PFI debt needs to be removed from the hospitals so they can concentrate on patients and not spreadsheets. Strong political will is needed here.
The process will be that special NHS administrators move in to financially troubled hospitals and will use the new Clause 119 to bring about the closure quickly and with very little meaningful consultation with commissioners, clinicians and local patients. It allows politicians to shrink the NHS and use financial reasons to do so - when these reasons are not due to the hospital failing as I explained above.
Many thanks to those who signed my open letter on Clause 119. It was published in the Guardian last week and you can read it here. Further pressure is needed on MPs who will vote in the next few days - a quick message to them can make a difference as they realise their constituents are angry about something. Contact your MP now with a quick message by clicking this link.