My apologies for not providing a written report at the AGM in March. 2017-18 has been a busy and fruitful year for the SHA. Following my ‘baptism of fire‘ – day 1 as Chair involved welcoming shadow SoS Jon Ashworth to the 2017 AGM – I was very pleased to welcome Jean Hardiman Smith, Tom Fitzgerald, Alison Scouller and Tony Beddow as honorary officers and vice chairs. It has been a pleasure to work with them and I am equally pleased with the addition of two further vice chairs, Diane Jones and Andy Thompson this year.

Membership

The membership of SHA – which had, as the bar chart shows, been static for many years – has increased exponentially during the last 15 months:

Membership numbers

My view is that this ‘epidermic of popularity‘ mirrors the ‘Corbyn effect‘ whereby the rediscovery of socialist values by the Labour Party has transformed its fortunes and made it the largest political party in Europe. I welcome also the increased number of SHA branches (see Director’s Report) and of branch delegates to Central Council.

Renationalising the NHS

Undoubtedly, another factor in our rapid increase in membership is our contemporary motion to Labour’s 2017 conference, which I had the privilege of compositing and subsequently proposing to conference last September. The motion, which was essentially about full renationalisation of the NHS in England, had been submitted by 25 CLPs in addition to SHA, with a further 15 submitting similar motions. It was carried unanimously by conference.

Since September SHA, along with many CLPs and health campaigning organisations, has advocated vigorously for full implementation of what is now Labour Party policy. Many Labour local authorities continue to cooperate with NHS England’s Five Year Forward View and Integrated Care Systems. Hence it was very welcome when the Guardian revealed last week Jon Ashworth’s commitment to consult in coming months on how an incoming Labour government should restructure a reinstated NHS based on Bevan’s original principles of universal, comprehensive, publicly provided care free at the point of use. I have offered our services to Jon and look forward to SHA working with him on this.

Organisation and development

My plans for strategic development were cut short by the 2017 general election and the need to focus on influencing the manifesto, creating a presence in marginal seats and short term outputs. These remain priorities, but the honorary officers and vice chairs have now discussed and agreed strategic development priorities and lead roles for 2018-19, as follows:

  • Operational management‘ – primarily within Jean’s role
  • Policy – Tony to lead
  • Website and associated issues – Andy to lead
  • Media / communications – Alex to lead
  • Membership / recruitment – Jean to lead
  • Liaison with labour movement, patient groups etc – Diane to lead
  • Maternity / health of women – Alison to lead
  • Liaison with parliaments / legislatures – to be agreed
  • Support to Chair – Alison

Once confirmed by Central Council, this division of labour will where relevant supplant existing roles and responsibilities and will be implemented by the officers and vice chairs as appropriate. I should make it clear that these are development priorities and are of course in addition to the fundamental roles of the Chair, Secretary and Treasurer.

Register of interests

It has been drawn to my attention that public sector bodies maintain registers of interests which are updated and declared at each meeting. This obviously helps ensure that all members are aware of their own and fellow members’ conflicts of interest, be they political, occupational or financial. I would welcome members’ views on whether Central Council should maintain a register of interests.

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One Comment

  1. Mervyn Hyde says:

    I fully agree with a register of interests, and would support any motion that meets that aim.

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