Dear Ms Oliver,

Thank you for
your email about the HSC Bill.

My subjects
are Foreign Affairs and human rights in particular – I was speaking in the
House on the Middle East this afternoon – immigration and asylum, prisons, the
EU’s home affairs policies, alcohol harm, and certain aspects of religious
policy. I haven’t taken part in the long and detailed debates on the Health etc
Bill; however, I am satisfied that with the numerous amendments to the Bill
that we have achieved, see attached summary, it is now fit for purpose. Our
peers who are involved in the Bill, from Shirley Williams downwards, have
worked their socks off to get this far, and it is disappointing to see that our
critics simply ignore what has been accomplished, and continue to behave as if
the text was the same as it came forth originally over a year ago.

In my view
it would mean chaos and confusion if the Bill were to be scrapped at this
eleventh hour, and I will be voting against Dr Owen’s motion on Monday. The
only responsible approach now is to make the changes work, and I hope that even
the most sceptical will now get down to that task, in the interests of
patients. Risk registers have never been published, because officials ned to
feel safe in thinking the unthinkable in preparing advice on policy, and if the
actual and theoretical risks were published, they would be subject to alarmist
misrepresentation based on worst case scenarios. The Government are probably
going to appeal against the tribunal’s decision, when they know what are the
reasons for their apparently inconsistent rulings on the transition risk
register and the strategic risk register respectively

By the way,
I declare an interest, having been a regular customer of the NHS over the last
18 years: Ischaemic heart disease
– CABG December 1995; Peripheral
vascular disease – angioplasty right
leg September 1997, left leg October 1998; Barrett’s
oesophagus and gastritis 2001; Colon
injury from RTA – colostomy October 2001;Colostomy reversed March 2002; MALT lymphoma April 2006; Osteopenia – fracture left hip October
2009; EVAR repair July 2010, and
now, MPD/MDS C-MPL 515L diagnosis
August 2011. The blood cancer is incurable, so I don’t expect to last for much
longer. My immune system is damaged, but it still works well against threats to
work against the Liberal Democrats

enough, the many health professionals I meet as a patient seem relaxed about
the Bill. As one would expect, those who write letters and emails may not be
entirely representative. I also notice that the letters and emails fall into
certain patters, which indicate that many of them aren’t the result of
independent thinking by the writers. Needless to say, I’m not saying that
applies to you.


Eric Avebury

Fri, Mar 16, 2012 at 6:11 PM,

Dear Lord Avebury,

I work in the NHS. We don’t mind change, we
have it forced on us all the time, but what your coalition is up is a scandal
for which you have no mandate from the electorate.

I sincerely hope your party is destroyed in
forthcoming elections and I will do my utmost to make sure it is.

Yours sincerely,

Sheila Oliver


Email received 17 March 2012 10:45 from Eric Avebury

Parts of the NHS are already privatised.

The FT you work for already takes 2-3% private patients if its typical, and
any increase has to be agreed by the Governors, overseen by Monitor.

I have no idea whether you will continue to do voluntary work in your
hospital after the Bill becomes law, but if not, it seems rather hard to take
your political resentment out on patients.

Please read Shirley Williams’ article in today’s Guardian.

The passage of the Bill is inevitable, so I suggest to you and other
critics that you help to make it work for the benefit of the patients. And
please, don’t threaten me with reprisals against the Liberal Democrats.I’m
fairly sure the LibDems will pay a penalty for going into coalition with the
Tories at the next general election, but absolutely certain that we did the
right thing, to rescue the nation from the appalling economic crisis left by
Blair and Brown.. But I’m unlikely to be around then – on Monday I’m seeing the
oncologist who is following up a cohort of 24 patients diagnosed in May 2008
with the variant of MDS/MPL that includes the mutation C-MPL W515L. So I hope
you can imagine that I don’t look at these matters from an electoral



Email sent – 17 March 2012 10:45

Dear Lord Avebury

When my young son died, my daughter, then aged 14, became
seriously ill with grief, as they were incredibly close. I had a complicated
job with the German Diplomatic Service. In order to give my daughter the time
and attention she needed, I took a job as a typist at the local hospital – no
pressure involved. I love my job.

I often act as interpreter at the hospital for German
patients (you would be surprised at the number of elderly German parents who
come to live in England with their offspring and speak little English) and
translate medical reports from abroad. I don’t charge the hospital extra for
this – I do it out of goodwill. Also, I have also worked as a volunteer almost
every weekend for 10 years on a ward for mainly the dying. Will I do any of this
when you privatise the NHS? Will I Buxton!


Email received – 17 March 2012 22:20

Not so! I’m surprised you’re not aware that many people die at home and that
will certainly be my objective

I’m extremely unlikely to ever end up in your hospital because we live ten
minutes’ walk from King’s College Hospital where I have spent many weeks with
the quadruple bypass, lung cancer, compound fracture of left femur and
replacement aorta. And St Thomas’s, where I had a colostomy after being knocked
off my bicycle in Millbank, is only 2 1/2 km away. The treatment for my blood
cancer, blocked arteries, arthritis etc is all at King’s, except I’m seeing Dr
Claire Harrison, an oncologist who is following up a cohort of 28 patients
discussed in the journal Blood of May 2008 with the same mutation as I have –
W515L – on Monday.

I certainly don’t want anybody telling me about football because its a
closed book to me, and I wouldn’t want chaplains because I’m a Buddhist.
Therefore I know that all things are impermanent and the soul or self is an
illusion. When I’m in hospital and close to death, as I have been more than
once, I want to be left in peace, and I hope that when I die at home I won’t
have lots of visitors. That’s not to denigrate the work you do, which I’m sure
some patients find agreeable.

Since you are good enough to tell me about your activities, let me tell you
about mine. If you go to my blog ericavebury’ and scroll down to ‘Rest of the
week’ you will find links to the speeches I made on the floor of the House on
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday on a variety of subjects. I also attended
Subcommittee F of the Lords EU Committee on Wednesday, and the report of our
Subcommittee on EU Drugs Strategy was published. Wednesday evening I attended a
dinner to celebrate thge 50th anniversary of my by-election, and earlier today I
attended the Secularist of the Year event, at which the award was made to my
friend Peter Tatchell. (I am a previous winner of the award, when an amendment
of mine abolished the offence of blasphemy).

This coming Monday after my date with the oncologist I will be in the House
to helpl see off Lord Owen’s misguided last ditch attempt to derail the HRC
Bill, with his motion on the risk registers. Risk registers are internal
management tools used by civil servants in formulating advice to ministers on
poliy, in this case relaqting to NHS reform. Thye should be protected from
disclosure because officials need to feel safe in ‘thinking the unthinkable’ in
preparing policy advice – which the FOI Act recognises as one of the grounds for
claiming exemption from disclosure. If the registers were published, including
the most extreme and improbable scenarios, they would certainly be subject to
alarmist misrepresentation, and in future, civil servants would feel inhibited
from articulating policy risks in the direct terms they use at present, leading
to a deterioration in the quality of advice ministers receive.

Owen’s motion will fail, and I hope that now the Bill is leaving the Lords
we will no longer be on the receiving end of absurd and apocalyptic fantasies
about the destruction of the NHS by privatisation, but rather that our
correspondents will bend their energies to making the changes work, for the
benefit of patients, the cause they profess to serve.

And please, if you do write to me again, avoid saying unpleasant things
about my friend and colleague Andrew Stunell. Frankly I am repelled by the way
you personalise your argument, always the sign of a weak case if I may say


Eric Avebury

Email sent – Sat, Mar 17, 2012 at 1:16 PM,

Dear Lord Avebury

Irrespective of what illnesses we currently are suffering
from, every one of us – unless we die in an accident – faces our last few days
in a hospital bed, doubly incontinent, too weak to sip tea up a straw, too weak
to turnover.

After almost full time work at Stepping Hill in the week,
I volunteer on a Sunday. If you end up in my hospital (and you might, who knows
if you come up campaigning to save the political careers of those lame ducks
Hunter and Stunell), I might be there to listen to stories of your time in the
Lords, I might shut the curtains for you if the sun is too bright (admittedly I
am grasping at straws here – this is Greater Manchester), I might move your
pillows to make you comfy, I might find out the latest footy results for you,
get the chaplain to come and talk to you, I might dribble a couple of teaspoons
of tea into your mouth when you are severely dehydrated from your laboured,
open-mouthed breathing, I might make your relatives a cup of teas and get some
biscuits or toast for them, I might sit listen to your relatives telling me what
a superb chap you were after your death. Stepping Hill, which I absolutely
love, has a very large number of volunteers

Would I do that for a Murdoch Inc or an Adam Werrity plc
Hospital? I doubt it somehow. I believe in the NHS, which operates on goodwill
from its staff and volunteers. I think you forget that.

With very warmest best wishes



Email received 17 March 2012 23:20

I am just amazed that you are so vitriolically hostile to all LibDems because of
your personal experience of some of them, and you can’t possibly expect me to
reply to your hate speech about Andrew Stunell when I know nothing about the
case you describe. I hasten to add that I don’t want to know, because in between
answering your emails I’m trying to deal with the deportation of a Malaysian
BOC, contrary to an assurance given to me and Simon Hughes after we met the
Immigration Minister Damian Green on February 23.

My own experience over the last half century is that LibDems, and Liberals
before them, give a much better quality of service to their constituents than
the other two parties, and that’s the way we have made a bit of headway against
the two-party system. I recognise that the Party has lost ground because we are
blamed for all the misdeeds of the coalition, but I’m sure it was the right
thing to do to go into coalition to rescue the country from the appalling mess
left by Blair and Brown.

I expect to have support when I die at home because I have a wonderful wife
who will look after me, I also have a daughter who ;lives in Hackney who I am
sure will lend a hand, as well as my youngest son aged 26 who lives at home.
They also have resources to bring in paid carers if necessary though I hope on a
minimal scale. When I see the oncologist on Monday I hope she’ll tell me roughly
what to expect. I will post the details of what she says on my blog, as I do
with all my medical details.And I commend to your attention the pictures of my
lung cancer removal operation in 2006 on YouTube just enter ericavebury



Email sent – Sat, Mar 17, 2012 at 10:51

Dear Lord Avebury


I love the Buddhists. You say we should do worthwhile
work. If everyone did worthwhile work the World would be a better place. I am
massively impressed by your being a Buddhist. Life is definitely an illusion,
as found out by Dostoyevsky, Marcus Aurelius, Shakespeare, Mark Twain. Tolstoy,
and some other people I have momentarily forgotten due to having consumed two
glasses of Aldi red wine.

This is Manchester, so whether City or United won is a
matter of all encompassing importance. I am a martial arts blackbelt, and if a
chaplain appears at the end of my bed when I am dying I will summon up all my
remaining strength and punch him on the nose (and it is, of course, likely to be
a him). Dying at home is good if there is the support. Is there likely to be,
given all the cutbacks to services and charities?

I am impressed by your work schedule and your 50 years in
harness. I am a secularist and a philosophical Taoist, not a religious one, my
Bible being the Tao of Pooh and the Te of Piglet. Blasphemy is an abomination
and I routinely am quite rude to my religious friends about their beliefs,
reminding them that they have a duty to love me back.

I got the risk registers on the toxic waste school in a
brief nanosecond of LibDem honesty and transparency (please excuse me whilst I
spit on the ground at the mere mention of the LibDems and I was stupid enough to
vote for them for 25 years). I think you are spouting rubbish on the risk
registers – sorry.

Andrew Stunell was very, very happy to see a completely
innocent man repeatedly imprisoned. How disgustingly appalling is that? He
only asked for counselling for his troubled daughters adopted from Stockport
Counci. When he asked them for counselling they had him repeatedly arrested and
sent to tough Forest Bank prison, where he was assumed by the prisoners to be a
paedophile because he was so sick he was immediately sent to the prison hospital
and they knew his case involved children. Stunell passed by on the other side.
I, the atheist, did not. He doesn’t do much work; nobody here has a good word
to say about him.

Kind regards


Email received – 18 March 2012 11:31

I don’t get involved in the affairs of my own local authority – Lambeth – and
I’m certainly not going to poke my nose into the affairs of the Goyt Valley.nor
would I take up the case of Mr Purnell. I’m not looking for casework all over
the United Kingdom but will stick to my last. If there are criminals on your
Council, its a matter for the police. The MPs and peers who were given prison
sentences in the expenses scandal were all Tory and Labour, by the way.

And now, if you will kindly give me a breathing space, I will get on with
my work.




I am not quite such a fan of 38 degrees as you are, because I have seen how they
propagate inaccurate information about the HSC Bill.

I had imagined that you would stop bombarding me with emaills now that the
HSC Bill has gone to the Commons, but I see you still have plenty of spare time
to lavish on me, with your ludicrous idea that councillors should resign because
a Tory fundraiser has told journalists he thought were potential donors that he
could get them to meet Cameron for £250,000. It isn’t suggested that he could
have delivered on this promise, let alone that he could have persuaded Cameron
to have changed some policy or other.

Have you forgotten that Labour DID take bungs for policy changes? See

I am not as worried about my posthumous reputation as you appear to think,
since you have mentioned it several times, but if historians mention me at all
it will probably be for the Orpington by-election of 1962, of which the 50th
anniversary was celebrated on March 14.

Now do give it a rest, Sheila, and let me get on with my work.