Friday, 13 December 2013

ACEVO: Not Neutral Over Health Bill Outcome


EMAIL FROM ACEVO TO MONITOR
A new set of communications has brought into question the neutrality of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO), on the outcome of the Health and Social Care bill.

When the Health and Social Care bill came to a shuddering halt following widespread rejection across the medical profession, the government paused the process to set up a Forum in what turned out to be a faux ‘listening exercise.’

The head of the ‘Choice and Competition’ element to the Forum was Sir Stephen Bubb, the Chief Executive of ACEVO. Sir Bubb’s preference for competition in the NHS was no secret; he openly called for the “health and social care market to be opened up” and consistently voiced his support for more competition.

However, throughout the period of the farcical ‘listening exercise’, ACEVO said they did not take a position on the Health and Social Care bill, and were neither for it or against it. This view was repeated in March 2012 when they said "ACEVO has not taken a position on the controversial health bill as a whole."

The email
However, a Freedom of Information request has unearthed an email written on the 17th August 2011, just after the ‘listening’ period that brings this statement into serious doubt. The author of the email is unknown because the name was redacted. The person thanked David Bennett, the head of the NHS regulator Monitor, for a ‘roundtable summary.’ It stated how it was good to see…that so many participants…place ‘choice’ at the top of priorities for Monitor.’ If ACEVO were not taking a position on the Health bill, then why are ACEVO in an email to Monitor saying it is 'good' people at the meeting were placing 'choice' as a priority for Monitor. Surely, if they do not take a position such a priority would be neither good nor bad as far as ACEVO are concerned.

Furthermore, the author of the email also suggested Monitor hold a 'desecrate' (discreet) meeting with ACEVO members to 'bounce ideas off and sound them out on reform and competition'. Why was it suggested to make this meeting discreet?  What did they have to hide?
ACEVO did indeed attend a roundtable meeting with Monitor hosted at the offices of the Royal National Institute for the Blind, with representatives from voluntary organisations that included CEOs from Asthma UK, Action on Hearing loss and Diabetes UK. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the new regulators' new role and purpose'.

Lobbying letter
This email follows on from the recent revelation uncovered by Social Investigations that Sir Stephen Bubb had teamed up alongside private healthcare trade and lobby group, the NHS Partners Network to urge Jeremy Hunt not to water down the secondary legislation, S.75 privatisation regulations. The letter carried the ACEVO logo, which strongly suggests this lobbying letter was in agreement with ACEVO and not Sir Stephen Bubb acting alone. Acevo are not ambivalent to the outcome of the the Health and Social Care bill, but have actively lobbied to ensure competition remains a key component of the new NHS.

ACEVO have twice been contacted to answer questions on their neutrality and have so far refused to answer.


Questions
The questions are below and we welcome a response at any time.

1) If ACEVO were not taking a position on the Health bill, then why are ACEVO in an email to Monitor saying it is 'good' people at the meeting were placing 'choice' as a priority for Monitor. Surely, if they do not take a position such a priority would be neither good nor bad as far as ACEVO are concerned?
2) Also, the names are redacted - who wrote the email?

3) The author of the email also suggested Monitor hold a 'desecrate' (discreet) meeting with ACEVO members to 'bounce ideas off and sound them out on reform and competition'. Why was it suggested to make this meeting discreet? 

4) The letter is sent with the ACEVO logo on it. It is therefore logical to assume, this position is that of ACEVO and not Sir Stephen Bubb. Is this the case?

5) Was this letter written by both Sir Stephen and David Worskett?

6) By sending this letter out on behalf of ACEVO, is it right to assume members of ACEVO were contacted about this before the letter went out? If not, then is it normal practice to send out lobbying letters on behalf of the membership without consent?

7) Finally, I have looked for your membership list but it appears to be hidden. Why is this, given the moves towards transparency? In http://www.acevo.org.uk/Page.aspx?pid=2150

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