There are two main areas of activity at the moment: Work around Labour Party policy development and external campaigning.  Our new Chair has been  taking a vigorous lead on the policy front, so I have been concentrating on the campaigning front.

The key asset here is our database, now with nearly 42,000 entries of people and organisations across the UK with an interest in health. I quite enjoyed deleting Liberal Democrat councillors after the recent elections and replacing them with Labour councillors.  I’ve also managed to collect contact details for most of the Clinical Commissioning Groups – and started a small campaign to get them all to publish an email address.

Up to now I’ve organised about 15 “Defending the NHS”discussions across the country from Gloucester to Newcastle on Tyne, and also spoken to about a dozen external and very diverse  organisations, including the South East TUC pensioners, Manchester University Contemporary History Group and Challenging Orthodoxies Society, and my mother’s Townswomen’s Guild.  It doesn’t really work with a big audience.  It needs to be interactive.  This programme will continue for some time. I hope to be invited to NHS Retirement Fellowship meetings, local history groups and I’m on the look out for new ideas

We’ve been approached by the Equality Trust to do some joint work on health inequality in the North West, and this has the potential to take us away from familiar territory as they are keen to reach out to the business community, churches etc.

When I’m not gallivanting round the country a lot of my time is taken up with running the website and social media.  These need to be considered as they support each other.  Our Twitter feed should reach 2000 followers this week, up from 1365 in January. Building up our Twitter followers is one of my main objectives. The Facebook page grows much more slowly – now at 1698, from 1365 in January, and I spend much less time on it.

The website design group has made some progress and a new logo should be ready shortly.  But its content that keeps the website alive. For most users design is a secondary consideration.

Visits to website since October 2012

Visits to website since October 2012

The new website has now been live for the best part of a year.  During that time we have had 327 posts, 83 of them from the Stakhanovite Shibley Rahman who is greatly to be thanked.  This compares with the 800 or so static pages on the old site.  So we now normally get at least 7 posts a week.  Some come without any intervention from me. But so far only a minority of posts are made without my assistance.  The idea of posting puts people off, though it isn’t actually very difficult.  If anyone sends me something worth reading, by email or any other way, I post it over their name, if I can persuade them to let me, if they don’t want to post themself.  I encourage people, especially those who complain about anything, to post their views on the site rather than just sending email to me.  Slowly we are getting more debate on the site, but the total number of comments is only 597 – about two per post.

SHA Website visits

SHA Website visits

I’ve endeavoured to address some of the issues raised by Central Council members about our online presence.  In particular I hope it is now much clearer who the author of each post is. I don’t think we have yet reached the point where we have to approve each post before it appears.  But we have certainly reached the point where we need to involve more people in running the site.  The arguments we have about our public image reflect the disagreement we have about our policy position, especially in respect of socialism, privatisation and nationalisation.  I do my best to present what I understand to be our agreed position, but not all members are happy about that.


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  1. Peter Mayer says:

    I have not logged in.
    It does not seem clear what is private i e only accessible to members/council taking part in a particular debate where views can be freely expressed or open to anyone with access to the web site?

  2. Martin Rathfelder says:

    this is open to anyone. We could set up password protected pages if we wish.

  3. Matthew Prior says:

    Keep up the great work Martin

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