Category Archives: Labour Party

Chipping Barnet CLP notes that access to contraception is a fundamental human right underpinning equality, impacting on the health, structure and prosperity of both society and families. The 2012 Health and Social Care Act disadvantaged women, separating much of the funding for contraceptive care from the NHS by moving the responsibility for commissioning into Local Authorities, with NHS providers competing for contracts. As a result, the commissioning of contraception is now separate from the commissioning of other aspects of women’s health, including abortion. From both a woman’s and a clinical perspective, this is illogical. Compounding this, the impact of austerity on Local Authorities has led to a reduction in services, reduced access and to a postcode lottery for contraception in England.

Chipping Barnet CLP believes that contraceptive services need to be fully funded and accessible in all areas of the UK, with co-operation replacing competition. It welcomes the commitment of the Shadow Health Department to abolish competitive tendering for these essential services, and to work with clinicians to establish centres of excellence alongside regular accessible clinics to which women have free and easy access to confidential care.

Chipping Barnet CLP calls on the Labour Party to resolve to deliver fully funded contraceptive services in all areas of the UK, setting up a working group whilst still in opposition, composed of experienced clinicians and commissioners, to write a blueprint for delivery which will be implemented within the first year of the Labour Government.

Published by Jean Hardiman Smith with the permission of Sarah Pillai ( Chipping Barnet CLP )

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Justin Madders MP

 

You’d be forgiven for not knowing that we are in the midst of even more reorganisation of the NHS. It is in part an attempt by the NHS leadership attempt to reverse the impact of the Health & Social Care Act via any means that does not require primary legislation. Everyone now seems to acknowledge that the top-down reorganisation has been as much of a disaster as Labour warned that it would be at the time.

In some ways, reversing the Lansley legislation and bringing health and social care services together in a fully public system is what Labour has been arguing for. But these aspirations are not going to be possible without far more investment, more rational funding, reversing privatisation and an end to the obsession with markets and competition.

The behind-the-scenes changes are like a parallel universe and none of this has been brought before parliament. No effort has been made to keep the public informed – the Health Secretary hasn’t even put out a press release.

One change being sought by the government is the creation of new bodies, known as Integrated Care Providers (ICPs). Although they could radically alter the entire health and social care landscape if widely adopted, this is all taking place without a vote or even a debate. ICPs will be responsible for running health and social care services in an area for up for up to ten years and, controversially, the contracts can be awarded to private companies.

When challenged on this, the government has tried to reassure people that the process won’t increase privatisation in the NHS. However, during a debate on the new proposals in parliament, health minister Stephen Barclay MP was asked four times by Conservative, SNP and Labour MPs to expressly rule out the new organisations being run by the private sector and he failed to do so on every occasion. The cross-party health select committee has called on the government to do the same, and they cannot offer a credible explanation for their refusal to do so.

The latest acronym for what you may have previously heard being called an STP or an ACO, ICPs are the latest manifestation of a process that has been going on behind the scenes for over two years. This new iteration adds even more confusion, as similar terminology around integration has been used to describe entirely different local models underway in other parts of the country.

Whatever the potential merits of the attempts to bring services together, the process has managed to alienate almost everyone as there was no proper consultation or engagement locally with public, patients or staff. Ambitious sounding STP “plans” fell apart under the mildest scrutiny as the money required for delivery was missing. Wildly optimistic assumptions about “savings” were literally incredible.

This approach was also characterised by the bewildering array of acronyms and complex terminology that has had the effect of shutting the public out of the debate around the future of the NHS. I don’t believe that this has been an accident.

The details setting out what an ICP will do were published during the summer recess, with no publicity – despite recent high-profile court cases that sought to prevent the process from continuing without new legislation being introduced. While very careful drafting means that these changes can technically be made without new legislation, it is clear that this process could mark a radical change to the way in which our health and social care services are organised.

Under the latest proposals, a contract will be awarded to a provider who will be given an annual payment to deliver a wide range of services. It will be compulsory to advertise the contracts to the market, and commissioners are forbidden from discriminating between NHS and non-NHS bidders. Bids can also be made by groups of organisations, so an NHS Trust or a group of GPs could partner with a private company. Previous high profile attempts to do this kind of thing in Staffordshire and in Cambridge collapsed spectacularly with millions of pounds wasted.

Worryingly, one of the criteria used to assess bids will be “whether they are able to deliver value for money”. This marks a significant change to the status quo. While there are clear issues with the current arrangement, it was introduced with the aim of ending competition based upon price and instead to focus on quality and choice. I do not believe that such a fundamental change should be made without the consent of parliament.

It is less than clear what will happen in the event that an ICP ends up in deficit, particularly where a private sector organisation or charity has won the contract. While the consultation documents set out that efforts that will be made to ensure that ICPs are financially viable, the same assurances have been offered about the existing configuration and almost half of all NHS providers were in deficit last year.

A new payment model proposed to fund ICPs where they are adopted will be known as a ‘whole population annual payment’, or WPAP. The ‘population’ to which it will be provided is not the actual population living in the area, but the number of people who have registered with their GP.  This could lead to a significant under-representation in some areas and therefore under-funding.

If the WPAP is not sufficient to deliver the current levels of service, the ICP will be responsible for “managing changes in demand”. While there are merits in a system that incentivises keeping people well, there is a clear danger that “demand” will be managed by rationing access to some treatments. It is far from clear who ultimately would make these decisions on rationing nor how they would be accountable for such decisions. Transparency is a key concern. And all of this raises the spectre of a new postcode lottery, where patient experiences are uneven depending on whom is contracted by an unaccountable panel of commissioners.

The whole approach is simply a farce and part of a smokescreen to hide the huge damage done by years of austerity, made worse by the waste of market reforms and privatisation. Until a Labour government removes all the market architecture and restores a proper public care system, these messy, secretive and ill-conceived Tory reorganisations will continue in perpetuity.

Justin Madders is shadow health minister and MP for Ellesmere Port and Neston.

 

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General comments:   It was wonderful to be amongst such an enthusiastic group of diverse people, of wide age range, varied skin tones, many dressed relating to the country of their family origins, with and without disabilities (wheel chairs were very much in evidence); they seemed to reflect the diversity of our population as I experience it on the street. There was a joyful atmosphere despite almost all the topics reflecting the distress amounting to cruelty imposed by this current government on those least able to fight back; the hunger for change, just the prospect of being able to work in a co-ordinated and supportive way to do something about it is palpable. It’s always so stimulating to be amongst people who are energised to tackle the job for which we know there is such urgent need, although the practicalities of undoing the effects of this long austerity will not be easy. It was also useful to encounter organisations of which I was only vaguely aware previously. All the events out of the main hall in both the main conference and the World Transformed were jammed with people, seats quickly taken, standing room also gone and people bulging into the corridor, leaning one ear towards the door to catch as much as they could.

Women’s Conference:   The SHA Motion supporting Abortion Rights across the UK was not taken forward to the main conference. Coral Jones seconded this motion with a strong statement, and spoke of the dilemmas facing Northern Ireland GPs forced by the 1861 law to make decisions they wouldn’t choose in non-professional circumstances, and that Ulster women choosing an illegal abortion might face imprisonment for the rest of their lives. There is also the situation of BAME women who cannot speak openly for cultural and patriarchal reasons. The other motions were Childcare, Women’s Health and Safety and Women and the Economy. The motions, presentations and supporting contributions from the floor were so persuasive, I would have found it difficult to choose which one to support for the main conference had I been a voting delegate.   All of these motions indicate a deteriorating situation for women and therefore the health and well being of future generations too since such adversities cascade down the generations; problems introduced in one generation may never, or take many generations, or take many generations to be resolved. I suggest SHA takes up the 3 motions which were rejected for the main conference at an early date. Domestic violence, the silenced experience of 1 in 3 women is commonplace, whilst specialist supportive services for women and children have been lost since 2010. Two women killed each week in the UK is not a trivial matter; these murders are about male power and coercive control of ‘his’ woman and a new campaign ‘Level Up’ aims to get more informed, responsible, less sexist, reporting of these situations in which the woman is usually ‘blamed’ for promoting his violence. Support is being given to address male violence (which seems good), but takes funding from the woman and children and often gives the man access to his family again without having reformed his abuse of them

World Transformed – SHA, Health Campaigns Together and NEON (New Economics Organisation Network) combined presenting the debate on ‘Saving the NHS’. Speakers including Jean Hardiman Smith and Deborah Harrington (www.publicmatters.org.uk) made excellent cases with many references back to Nye Bevan’s ‘In place of fear’, how the arguments and threats raised in chapter 5 of this pamphlet in the 1940s are very relevant today, services being unaffordable, people living too long, demand too high etc… and to Julian Tudor Hart’s Inverse Care Law applying throughout the World. There was a pertinent reminder that services free at the point of need only matter if they’re of good quality. Bonnie Castillo, a nurse from the US – National Nurses United (www.nationlnursesunited.org) – pointed out that most and rising ill-health in the US is from preventable diseases, US neo-natal mortality is the highest in the developed world, and that though grass roots demand ‘Medicare for All’ is huge, it’s frustrated by corporate donor pressure blocking supportive Democrats from voting for it. It’s a timely reminder for us in England as corporate lobbying of politicians erupts volcanically here; conflicts of interest seem never to be challenged now and politicians switch easily between well paid corporate and governmental posts.

Fringe meetings on the Future of Care and Universal Credit (in association with the Trussell Trust) were predictably bleak. Barbara Keeley MP said all aspects of care is in crisis, (services, informal family and paid care); care itself had become more intensive and complex as people live for longer, sometimes with profound disabilities and requiring much more intimate intensive personal support often than before. The hollowing out of social care had led to 25% of caring situations now rated as poor resulting in ever more responsibilities being left to involuntary ‘volunteer’ family / friends. The Government’s promise of a Carers Action Plan (vague at best) and extra support for young carers had been forgotten, whilst Local Authorities, deprived of funding could not meet statutory responsibilities, so many people in England now never even approached their Councils for help, thereby contrasting with Scotland where Social Care is still funded. A commission to investigate the range of problems consequent to unpaid care in England would raise the profile of family carers and point out its impact on neglected matters like their entitlement to a pension; a pension is only available to those on the meagre Carers Allowance. The lack of training for unpaid and newer recruits to paid care also needs addressing; insofar as it works currently, the care system relies on an older workforce teaching the younger recruits voluntarily. Re-ablement, helping people to recover care for themselves is of very low priority. It would be useful to publicise the Dilnot Commission Report on Social Care (2011) and its recommendations and to take government to task for its failures. Why call it a caring system when it clearly isn’t?

The many flaws of Universal Credit and the damning report of July 2018 were aired. The numbers of food banks increased by 13% in the last year, 52% in areas where they were fully established already. The Left Behind Report has highlighted the brutality of the immediate problems of 70% of claimants who go into debt whilst waiting to gain access to support. No-one at these meetings could ever doubt the urgent need for reform of Universal Credit and re-instatement of a proper supportive welfare state providing the safety net it used to do with benefits linked to needs. Work coaches are primarily about implementing cuts. It’s not ‘just about managing’, but a question of survival now with 66% of benefit spent on food and the rest on utilities and never forgetting that this situation applies to 1 in 6 families where at least one member is in work and in work poverty has risen from 13 to 32% in recent years.

There were 2 SHA fringe meetings, both held at the Quakers and chaired by Jean

Emma Dent Code, MP for Kensington and Chelsea claimed it was the most unequal borough in Britain, with care homes run by a well known provider, it has 4 of the worse in the country according to the CQC, it has 4 food banks and has had the greatest fall of life expectation ever recorded – 6 years since 2010. She gave the example of a male in one part of the Borough with a life expectation of 63 years, whilst another living near Harrods would have 92 years. She reported many Grenfell related horror stories.

Judy Downing of the Relatives and Residents Association gave an outstanding presentation of the Labour Party’s failure to highlight the lack of standards and needs of the work force in care homes, many of which were run by small providers for profit. She claimed 1.4 million paid carers in care homes had no qualifications, (whilst this is a situation worse than operated in kennels, the same is true for informal family carers). Staff turn-over in care homes is about 28% (costing an estimated £3 – 5 billion), many leaving in less than a year, and about 50% of care homes are inadequate. Currently, US companies are making 12% profit from care homes in exchange for ‘crap’ care.   She suggested CQC should be nationalised to address these horrors with mandatory regulations and training elements.

Eleanor Smith MP called for re-nationalisation of the NHS, with a proper training budget again. Social care and care for the elderly budgets had plummeted since the 1980s, and the NHS would soon be in the same state if nothing was done. Private providers, international hedge fund managers (‘vampire capitalists’) would soon be able to affect health budgets – a clear conflict of interest – and Local Authority care workers are being warned off speaking about what’s happening. 60% of care homes don’t do health checks, there have been 3 times as many cuts in residential home beds as in the NHS. A Mental Health Capacity Amendment Bill if enacted would allow a care home manager to make the decision to deprive someone of his liberty – a privatisation of liberty! There is a financial incentive NEVER to discharge a patient when it is so profitable to keep him, as has happened for decades in private mental health care homes.

In the Health Inequalities session we were reminded of the Black Report of 1980 which linked health inequalities and poverty and was ignored by Mrs Thatcher so that since then, services have been lost and deaths have risen. How many more tragedies will happen before it is realised that we need a properly funded NATIONAL Health Service? The process has been to carve up the NHS, give powers to the Local Authorities then slash their funding. This has resulted in public health, drug and alcohol services, sexual health clinics, mental health rehab facilities, women and child welfare and support facilities, preventive medicine of all kinds, life expectation and quality of life all plummeting. Staff see a daily erosion of their service, they are subjected to constant pressure, unrealistic targets, so that many at all levels leave ill. Cuts and privatisation are rife. This is a quote from a nurse who can’t wait to leave ‘I did not become a nurse to make profits to line wealthy pockets.’ The NHS is for the people NOT profiteers. NHS Well-being terms are needed to address the injustice and assess the impact of all these changes on the lives people live including those with chronic and disabling health conditions (not forgetting mental ill-health), the unemployed, especially women’s and BAME’s lives

On the last day, Denis Skinner’s contribution was welcomed with a standing ovation. He described being inspired to leave mining and become an MP by the Atlee government of 1945. He has seen an inclusion at the Conference just not seen in everyday life. A fairer society should be judged by the obstacles it overcomes. He was there at the birth of the NHS, mentioned the various surgical procedures without which he wouldn’t now be addressing us. One was a heart by-pass performed by a United Nations team, and he listed all the countries from which the various medical staff had come – it was huge, as was his reception with laughter, clapping and cheering as the list went on and on.

Judith Varley   11.10.18.

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Saving the NHS: Planning our fightback

Few people know that the North West of England can proudly lay claim to be the conception point of our NHS. It was here at the 1934 Labour Party Conference that the party accepted a paper on the creation of a National Health Service by Labour politician, surgeon and founding President of the Socialist Health Association, Somerville Hastings. He was a primary mover in the fight for the NHS from the mid-1930s, and we in the SHA today remain steadfast supporters of the values on which the NHS was founded, the values of the welfare state and the values of Summerville Hastings.

Sommerville Hastings spoke to the Labour programme For Socialism and Peace, at the Labour Party Conference 1934.

This committed the party to the establishment of a State Health Service

To quote the programme:  “Labour proposes to utilise medical discovery to the full in the service of the nation. Labour’s general aim is to provide eventually domiciliary and institutional care to the community as a whole—a State Health Service evolving round a system of up-to-date clinics, with provision for specialist and other forms of treatment. Individual poverty must not be a barrier to the best that medical science can provide.”

70 years on the public are told the NHS is struggling by the Tories and right-leaning think tanks with high media profiles.  We believe that this has nothing to do with our ageing population, nor with the costs of drugs and medical technology as they claim.  A wealthy country like the UK can afford to provide a good health and care service. Like the USA it is increasingly choosing not to. The populace has been trained for decades to think of the economy like children pleading for pocket money for a puppy and being refused as the money is needed (by sensible adults) to put a meal on the table. The evidence shows it is not like that, but far more sophisticated. Money spent on health and care, and on decent terms, training and conditions for staff is money going into, and building, the economy.  It makes more than it spends when looking at the wider picture.

The attack is ideological. Conservatives are using the smokescreen of austerity to form their all-out attack on Labour’s welfare state of which the NHS was the jewel in the crown. Their manoeuvres are, by means of cuts, fragmentation rationing and privatisation. Deficits were artificially engineered, and operations like cataracts, and joint replacements denied. The NHS was split into 44 corporate Integrated Care Systems, and poorer areas have had their funding for health diverted to richer ones – with worse, much worse, to follow.  Watch this space!!!  The NHS is fragmented and no longer national.

And as far as privatisation is concerned, the NHS is now a logo behind which you may unknowingly be using a service contracted out to Virgin or SpecSavers. The whole system is devised and often managed by transnational corporations like McKinsey, Capita and KPMG. As a result of this covert “cultural revolution” billions are wasted on the transaction costs of the Tory NHS market and on the business infrastructure necessary to maintain it. Meanwhile, chronic disease sufferers, older people and maternity patients especially are being enticed to adopt personal health budgets to undermine public sector NHS funding in preparation for linking with health insurance co-payments (for those who can afford them).

Until very recently Labour lacked the political courage to challenge the neoliberal takeover of our NHS. That is until 2017 when the SHA motion to renationalise the NHS was adopted as official Party policy.  The SHA has been at the forefront of the fightback.  We support campaigning organisations in any way we can, but as a think tank, our job is to sweat over the minutiae of the structures by which a socialist government could implement the return of the NHS as a truly world class nationwide system, free at the point of use, according to need, and funded from general taxation. Many of us have a vision that Care also could be nationalised, to fully support our most vulnerable citizens, without milking them of their hard-earned savings and possessions, and with the risks truly spread, like the NHS, via general taxation. It makes financial good sense, as well as being more humane and ethical. Our people deserve no less. It may be a simple sounding vision, but it will need a great deal of thought, hard work and dedication to implement, given the dreadful state of the care system, the increasingly fractured and struggling NHS and the entangled vested interests of privateers and ideologues.

We in the SHA have thousands of people who are experts in their own right as members and supporters, and we encourage them to engage as we work to refine the socialist vision, identify the barriers, and offer detailed and practical solutions to overcome them.  As a long-established part of the Labour movement, we have been meeting regularly with the Shadow Health Team. SHA policies, if they are to be utilised like the vision of Somerville Hastings to build a new and improved NHS which works for the many not the few, will need courage, boldness, hard work from a future labour Shadow Health Team,   and a Secretary of State , who will take full responsibility, and who has the heart to put people, patients and the staff who support them, first. It will also need funding, funding which cannot be allowed to line the pockets of the greedy and unscrupulous.At last year’s Labour conference, we broke through the barrier against NHS renationalisation.

The composite NHS motion, originally drafted by the Socialist Health Association (SHA) and proposed by SHA Chair Alex Scott-Samuel, made it clear that the whole health system is being opened up to corporate interests; This motion committed Labour to actively opposing NHS England’s 5 Year Forward View plan and its accountable (now integrated) care systems. On June 27, Eleanor Smith MP, who has supported our president Professor Allyson Pollock, and Peter Roderick’s NHS Reinstatement Bill, together with Shadow Health secretary Jon Ashworth, signed the NHS Takeback Pledge which is directly derived from the Reinstatement Bill. Labour has aligned itself with the voice of the people.  The SHA has played no small part in this.  We must be vigilant and ensure there is no backtracking or fudging from this commitment.

The SHA believes the fight for the NHS and the soul of our country is between democracy and corporate power. The Socialist Health Association continues to fight for democracy.  We believe that healthcare is a human right, and everyone, regardless of income, class, creed or ethnicity, mental or and physical ability or sexual orientation has a right to access the best quality of healthcare and care. The pooling and sharing of risk on a national basis liberates us from fear of illness. Before the NHS, illness and pregnancy could lead inexorably to poverty, starvation and death. The NHS defined our nation as civilized and caring and has given us 70 years of freedom from fear. We must all work together, as individuals and organisations, to ensure that our children and grandchildren enjoy this same freedom.

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Waiting for Jeremy: Wavertree Chair Alex Scott-Samuel and other invited Merseyside activists on stage awaiting the Leader’s Speech at #Lab18

Note the SHA tee-shirt.

 

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For everyone who couldn’t make the Conference, here is Alison Scouller’s ( Vice Chair ) speech. An audio file is also posted.

Jean Hardiman Smith

Hello Alison Scouller here, sorry I can’t be with you. These are my thoughts to accompany the SHA discussion document before you. We decided to write this policy as part of our wider policy work, as we had no statement of the SHA’s perspective on maternity care.
I’m a retired midwife who worked in hospital, community and latterly as a midwifery lecturer in South Wales. To devise a policy I took inspiration from the Save Liverpool Women’s Hospital campaign’s manifesto for maternity and worked initially with two Welsh members, Billie Hunter, Professor of Midwifery and Gill Boden who is a campaigner for AIMS, and another Midwifery Professor Mavis Kirkham from Sheffield as well as liaising with our secretary Jean Hardiman Smith. Since then we have revised the policy considerably, following suggestions and contributions from Central Council members.
We have taken on board the particular concerns of the Liverpool campaigners in the context of the creeping privatization of the English NHS, but in writing this policy we had to have a policy which is applicable across the UK. Therefore the first paragraph sets this out. .
We decided that the right to access contraception and abortion that should form part of another document about reproductive rights, including fertility treatment, and that here we should focus on care for pregnancy.
As you can see in point 1) we put the importance of addressing poverty centre stage, and the overarching importance of good nutrition from pre to post pregnancy, in fact throughout everyone’s life! We decided not to be too specific on particular public health measures, as our policy has to be applicable in different versions of the NHS and the wider context. We also included the issue of other forms of stress and their detrimental effect on pregnancy outcomes, both in terms of women and babies.
The next 2 points emphasize the importance of those at the centre of maternity care needing to be listened to, whether it’s about their own individual situation or in terms of general observations about how care should be. Planning for care should of course reflect diversity in all communities. In order to address inequalities in society, whilst all should receive the same level of care, extra provision should be there for some, as was recognized by previous Labour Governments in projects such as Sure Start.
We went on to identify issues related to specific stages in pregnancy itself, having covered the pre pregnancy period. In point 6) Antenatal care is clearly crucial to ensure that women are aware of as many aspects of their health as possible, such as family history, normal physiological changes of pregnancy, Body Mass Index , any pathological conditions already present or precipitated by pregnancy, and how these may impact on their pregnancy outcomes. It needs to be accessible as early in pregnancy as needed. It should be as local to women as possible and include at least one home visit, unless the woman does not wish for this, with her named midwife.
When we talk about antenatal education this does not mean in a formal, school type environment but can range from physically meeting in a group setting with a midwife to having education available on CDs, online and via social media. It’s not just about being given information for example about how labour may progress but also learning practical skills to cope with it, such as exercise and relaxation. It’s also about what happens after the birth and coping strategies for parents. The social and support aspects of women and family members meeting with others going through a similar experience are usually the most valued by those enjoying group education. Of course specific needs have to be catered for, so that some women may prefer to attend women only groups and prefer less formal settings.
The evidence for the effects of adverse childhood experiences on people’s ability to be good parents is now quite compelling, hence point 7)
In relation to point 8) We know from research and experience that women’s wishes in relation to place of birth are determined by many factors, and these are very varied. Health care professionals must strive to provide as much evidence based information to enable women and their families to make the right choices for them. All places of birth carry some risks, with home birth and stand alone birth centres there are always concerns about access to ‘back up’ in emergencies. On the other hand there are risks associated with unnecessary intervention (mistimed, inappropriate and even dangerous) in childbirth, both in terms of mortality but also morbidity of mothers and babies I think Lesley page coined the phrase ‘too much too soon, too little too late’ to summarise the problems unfortunately still occurring. The other thing to bear in mind is the importance of antenatal care and education in ensuring safe outcomes. If that care is as it should be, then women at risk of complications are less likely to have poor outcomes because care will have been tailored to mitigate those complications.
Moving on to point 9) we identify the importance of continuity of care. This can be difficult to achieve in cash strapped services but has been consistently shown in research and other feedback to be a key concern for women and promotes positive outcomes.
Finally we put in relation to after birth, points 10) and 11). Physical, emotional and mental health are equally important here. Increasing breastfeeding rates would make a huge difference to children’s health, yet initiation and continuation of breastfeeding rates in the UK remain low. Once again peer support has been shown to be critical to breastfeeding success, as well as support from midwives and health visitors.
In the past, care of women’s mental health has lacked coordination between midwives, health visitors, GPs and community mental health nurses. Equally where babies have been compromised by maternal complications before or during birth and/or being born preterm then neonatal special and intensive care cots should to be available as needed.

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For those who were unable to attend Conference, here is Dr Coral Jones speaking at the conference.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7oiIeuQfqk&feature=share

Jean Hardiman Smith

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To all members, comrades and friends on behalf of the Officers and Executive:

First, I would like to thank Judith Varley for the tremendous support she gave me at the Conference as a disabled companion. It was extra good having an active and interested SHA member as a plus to our usual allocation of 2. Judith was invaluable in discussions, and in looking around the wider fringes and events at conference. I hope she will have her own tale to tell. Thanks also to my SHA fellow delegate, Coral, who was just great to work with. Missing her already.
SHA had a wonderful presence at the Labour Party Conference this year (2018). There was a slight disappointment from the perspective of the Socialist Health Association in that the Conference focus was on Brexit. In the Women’s Conference our own delegate, Coral Jones, spoke well and persuasively on our motion on the issue of abortion, and how it is still technically a criminal matter. Coral will tell us more about this in her own words. Although the motion was not chosen to go forward, one on Women and the economy being favoured, all was not lost. Coral managed to speak to it eloquently, persuasively, and at some length, at the end of the main Conference, after Central Council member Norma Dudley proposed a reference back to our SHA motion on NHS renationalisation. Norma was speaking on behalf of her CLP, but she mentioned us warmly, and was speaking for us too. I cannot praise her ability highly enough, she is a real asset, like Coral.
I discovered, if I didn’t already know, that there is a wealth of talent amongst SHA women. Even when they were not speaking on the platform, or chairing sessions, they were showing their understanding and passion on health and care issues from the floor. I will try to remember some names, but everyone I heard was amazing, so if is an oversight if you are not mentioned:
Saturday/Sunday: Myself and fellow SHA member Felicity Dowling were speaking at The World transformed on the way forward for the NHS on Sunday. I hope I did us proud, Felicity certainly did. I am hoping she will let us have a copy of what she said to put on our website. Jessica Ormerod, and Nicholas Csergo were present to support us, as were other members and friends. If you read this, please add to the debate, and add your name to the people present. As speakers we didn’t get to take part in the round table discussions, and it would be good to hear about them.
Other members were speaking at, and supporting the Conference fringes and events on Sunday, and I hope Felicity will also let us know about the Women’s March to save the Royal women’s Hospital in Liverpool on Saturday.

Monday: Our first Fringe event was on Women’s Health and was very ably chaired by Central Council member and Chair of Liverpool SHA, Irene Leonard. It was attended by Alex, me, and Andy Thompson and a lot of other members and supporters. It was great to see Andy, Alex, and Nicholas supporting the session on Women’s Health. Of course, it is not just a women’s issue, and their support and friendship is very much appreciated. Our members Jessica Ormerod, Felicity Dowling and another local activist with a great depth of knowledge (Alex can tell us more about her, and I hope we meet up with her again – and recruit her), spoke so eloquently and passionately on the subject, and members of the audience were able to make very knowledgeable and worthwhile contributions. I hope Irene will say a few more words on this session.
Tuesday: Coral, myself and Judith mostly stayed in the Conference, but in the afternoon, Brian Fisher our Vice President arranged a meet up to talk about Care in the Community. Judith and I attended, while Coral and Norma both covered the Conference.
Tuesday Evening: Our second Fringe meeting on care and the renationalisation of the NHS Bill. We were very lucky with this, as MP Emma Dent Coad, who is the MP who ensured Grenfell did not pass unnoticed, and Eleanor Smith, the MP who is supporting the Renationalisation Bill through Parliament were both able to be present for almost the whole of the session. We also had our SHA member Judy Downey, possibly the foremost expert in the country from SHA perspective, and who is honest, and passionate. Last, but not least, Brian Fisher our Vice President spoke well and passionately about the issues, and a truly Socialist solution. I had the honour of chairing, but with a whole roomful of energised, knowledgeable and passionate people, both speakers and audience, it chaired itself. Again, Nicholas and Alex were there to support, as were Norma, Corrie Lowry, another Central council member, and great speaker, and Felicity. Our own Kathrin Thomas was also there in support. We all agreed that we could not let care be relegated to the long grass, as it seems to be in great danger of doing, and I hope we will get the opportunity to work with the MPs again. Gilda Petersen, from HCT, with whom we (SHA via Brian and me) are working on a Conference in November (details to follow) brought leaflets to the meeting room. I hope everyone will support this. It is in Birmingham on the 17th November and will be another chance to hear some wonderful speakers again, meet with new ones, and spend a whole day thinking about these complex issues.

Judy spoke about the privatisation of Liberty and will do so again in November.

Today I collected our material from the stall, and listened to a great speech from Jonathan Ashworth, and, to come full circle, the debates to which Coral and Norma made such a great SHA contribution.

To all members and friends, I won’t know what everyone did, and your contributions are all important. Please send me your information and opinions, so that all voices are heard

Jean Hardiman Smith Secretary and proud SHA delegate

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FINAL DETAILS – PLEASE COME VERY EARLY

Saving the NHS: Planning Our Fightback
Sunday 23rd September, 10.45 – 12.45
organised by Health Campaigns Together and NEON.

Venue: Black E (sometimes described as Liverpool’s third cathedral) at
1 Great George St, Liverpool L1 5EW
http://www.theblack-e.co.uk/content/location

This is part of a series of events, alongside the Labour Party Conference,
organised by The World Transformed.

We plan a lively session that asks participants to think forward and think strategically.
Speakers include John Lister from HCT, Public Matters, National Nurses United, Save Liverpool
Women’s Hospital, Wigan Outsourcing Campaign, Socialist Health Association, Just Treatment.

See you there!

Keith Venables, HCT and George Woods, NEON.

Lastly, ahead of the event we’d really appreciate you helping us promote it and get the word out.

You could retweet the @TWT_NOW tweet here
You could add something like this to the tweet:

‘We’re going to be at the session on a mass movement to save the NHS at @TWT_NOW this year!

Join us to help build a practical plan to defeat privatisation and cuts https://www.facebook.com/event s/289263841860031/

Join and share the Facebook event page here https://www.facebook.com/event s/289263841860031/

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Since the last Labour Party conference, the NHS has remained under immense financial and performance pressure, CCG boardrooms are still thick with talk of transformation and integration, and opinion polling indicates that healthcare remains a top priority for the public. Health is at the core of the Labour promise, so it is no surprise that this year’s conference is teeming with fringe events on health. This article previews the opportunities to hear the latest thinking on health and care, from inside and outside the movement. Main conference fringe listings can be found here, while listings for The World Transformed are here.

Voices from within the system

Both NHS Providers, which represents hospital and ambulance trusts, and the NHS Confederation, which represents both provider and commissioner organisations, are holding fringe events. NHS Providers’ event is intriguingly titled “Targets And The 10 Year NHS Plan – Meet, Reform Or Scrap?”, perhaps reflecting the themes of their recently published blog on the key questions facing the system (Mon 8am, Concourse Room 2, ACC, invitation only).

The Confed, meanwhile, will be asking the somewhat leading question “Does The Labour Party Need Another Nye Bevan Leadership Moment To Plug The Funding Gap In The NHS?” with a top-quality line-up including Jonathan Ashworth, Unison’s Sara Gorton, the co-chair of NHS Clinical Commissioners (the trade body for CCGs), and representatives from the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (Mon 10am, Hilton Hotel).

Later the same day, the Confed brings together a panel including the RCN and Health Foundation to discuss NHS workforce planning (Mon 12pm, Novotel), and discusses mental health and local government with Luciana Berger MP, Mind and Mersey Care (Mon 3pm, Novotel). The Confederation’s Chief Executive also speaks alongside the Social Market Foundation and Simplyhealth on health outcomes (Tue 8:30am, Pullman Hotel).

The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges also pulls together a high-profile panel to discuss priorities for health and care investment, again featuring Ashworth, alongside GP leader Prof. Helen Stokes-Lampard and other leading physicians (Mon 2:30pm, Hilton Hotel). The Royal College of GPs is also hosting an evening event, “The Health Debate” (Tue 7:45pm, Meeting Room 7, ACC). The Royal Colleges of Nursing and Midwifery are represented at the Fabian Society’s Health fringe event, titled “Achieving a Better Health and Care Service” (Sun 1pm, Merseyside Maritime Museum)

Social care is well-represented in this year’s fringe. The Socialist Health Association’s own fringe addresses the future of social care and the NHS Renationalisation Bill (Tue 6pm, Quaker Meeting House). Age UK and the British Red Cross are similarly forward-looking, hosting an event titled “Health And Social Care For The Future: Transforming The System Through Person-Centred Care” (Mon 8:30am, Pullman Hotel, invitation only), and Carers UK joined by Barbara Keeley MP for a session examining the role of the family and the state in care (Mon 10am, Concourse Room 2, ACC). Keeley also joins the panel for a fringe organised by the IPPR think-tank and Future Care Capital, a charity and investor in health and social care startups (Mon 12:30pm, Meeting Room 14, ACC), as well as an Age UK and Fabian Society fringe discussing Labour’s wider agenda for older people (Tue 1pm, Merseyside Maritime Museum).

Party Priorities

The conference presents a number of opportunities to hear from the Shadow Health team, starting with Jonathan Ashworth in conversation with the Huffington Post (Sunday, 12:45pm, Concourse Room 2, ACC), and at the Health and Care Forum reception, where he will be joined by the Welsh Government minister for Children, Huw Irranca-Davies (Sunday 7:45pm, Meeting Room 4a). Ashworth joins the RCN and Health Foundation the following day to consider the killer question “How Do You Fix Health And Social Care Without Losing The Next Election?” (Mon 8am, Hall 2 Room 4, ACC), and also features at events arranged by the Confed and the royal colleges, above.

Given Simon Stevens’ recent comments on gambling as a public health issue, the Labour Campaign for Gambling Reform’s event, “Lessons From The Fight Against Fixed Odds Betting Terminals” is very timely (Mon 12:30pm, Hall 2 Room 5). Gambling reform has been a hot topic across the party this year, with prominent campaigners including Tom Watson and Matt Zarb-Cousin putting the pressure on the government over fixed-odds betting terminals.

The Socialist Health Association will be bringing together women’s health experts and campaigners to discuss maternity and the campaign to save Liverpool Women’s Hospital – a vital campaign to preserve a unique hospital (Mon 12:30pm, Quaker Meeting House)

Backbench MPs Luciana Berger and Paul Williams join Progress’ health fringe (Mon 12:45pm, International Slavery Museum), while MPs Julie Cooper and Ben Bradshaw participate in the Fabian Society’s discussion on the future shape of primary care (Mon 1pm, Merseyside Maritime Museum). Berger also sits alongside Shadow Minister for Public Health Sharon Hodgson and representatives from the Northern Health Science Alliance and University of Manchester to discuss regional health inequalities (Tue 12:45pm, Concourse Room 5). Thangam Debbonaire MP and Jeff Smith MP convene a fringe on drug law reform (Tue 5:30pm, Pullman Hotel).

The Labour Campaign for Mental Health have teamed up with the charity YoungMinds (Sunday, 5pm, Hall 2 Room 4, ACC) to discuss the crisis in young people’s mental health, while at the same time Alzheimer’s Research UK and Age UK host Barbara Keeley MP, the shadow minister for mental health and social care, in discussion about dementia (Sunday, 5pm, Concourse Room 2, ACC).

The World Transformed

Now entering its third year, Momentum’s fringe festival is relatively light on health topics, with only three of the sessions centred on health and care. A separate ticket is required for TWT sessions.

The New Economy Organisers Network is increasingly well-known for its systematic and highly-effective approach to campaigning for progressive causes. This year NEON has increased its focus on the NHS, hiring a full-time NHS organiser, so their TWT session planning the fightback won’t be one to miss, especially since it will also feature one of our own members! (Sun 11am, Black-E main space).

Jonathan Ashworth pops up again alongside the New Economics Foundation and Plan C, the anti-authoritarian communist group, talking mental health and capitalism (Mon 5:30pm, Black-E Theatre).

Finally, Global Justice Now and Health Poverty Action take an international tack on health, discussing prospects for a global NHS (Tue 11am, Black-E Theatre).

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The association has been affiliated to the Labour Party nationally since at least 1934, when our President, Somerville Hastings, the first doctor to appear at a Labour Party Conference, proposed the resolution which committed the Party to establish a free National Health Service.

We are one of 20 affiliated socialist societies. We are entitled to send two delegates to the Labour Party national conference, and one delegate to the Women’s and Youth conference. Although we do not require all our members to be in the Labour Party any delegates to any party bodies must be party members, and live in the relevant constituency.

For most purposes the party puts the societies in the same category as the affiliated unions. So at conference our card votes are generally counted with theirs – and are therefore negligible.  The societies meet regularly together, and we have 3 delegates elected by societies to the National Policy Forum and a representative, James Asser, on the National Executive Committee.   Because most of the societies are very small we have for many years agreed to jointly nominate people chosen on the basis of one society one vote.  We are entitled to send an observer to the NPF if we are not among the 3 delegates.

We pay a national affiliation fee of £1.25 per member, £945 last year, which covers the whole UK.

We are entitled to affiliate to regional Labour parties, but they expect us to pay affiliation fees to them which vary between £200 and £50 calculated on a formula which often is based on an assumption that we have a minimum of 1000 members in the region.  That entitles us to attend their conference and there is a place on the regional executive for a socialist society representative. Wales and Scotland operate in a manner analogous to the English regions, and we have to pay additionally to affiliate there. They have their own conferences and policy making structures for devolved matters.  The socialist societies have two gender balanced seats on the Welsh Executive.

Local Campaign Forums exist at what were once called county level and at city level. In principle socialist societies could have a place on these forums.  These cover areas which, more or less, map to NHS health economies in England, so are potentially of interest to us, but their composition does not appear to be nationally mandated.

We are entitled to send up to 5 delegates to each Constituency Labour Party, so long as we have that many members in the constituency unless there is a different basis of representation agreed by the NEC in that constituency.  We have to pay an affiliation fee of £6.  This is significant in constituencies which operate on a delegate structure, but less so in those which operate on all member meetings.

The Association does not have any rights in respect of ward branch Labour parties.

These arrangements may be altered as a result of the party’s Democracy Review.

Labour party constituencies, Labour groups or any other organisations can affiliate to the Association.  The affiliation fee for local organisations  is £25 and for small national organisations £125.  Larger organisations pay a larger fee by agreement.  The benefits of membership, in particular, reduced rates for our events, and inclusion on our mailing lists are extended to any member of an affiliated organisation who wants them.  This currently includes Unison, Unite, GMB, and a number of Constituency Labour Parties and union branches.

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The Labour National Policy Forum was held in Leeds 18- 20th February

Alex Scott Samuel and myself attended the Labour Policy Forum as observers for the SHA.

The commencement of the proceedings was on an internal matter, which meant that an excellent speech by Jeremy Corbyn was delayed, and there was no Q&A session.  As it turned out we had lost so much time we worked through the coffee breaks in our breakout sessions, listening to some excellent ideas, and some which had been in circulation for decades.   Alex and I were particularly interested in local communities and health inequalities, and other health and care related subjects.

Altogether there were 8 headings for the breakout sessions, and a plenary session on health with speakers Jonathan Ashworth, MP Shadow Health Secretary, and Sharon Hodgson MP, Shadow Minister for Public Health.  On Sunday afternoon there was a panel on Brexit.

I have a copy of each of the briefing papers as follows and could send it as a Document if anyone would like to see what the present thinking is. I understand a report will be issued, which I will circulate when received.

International

Health and Social care

Work Pensions and Equality

Housing, Local Government and Transport

Justice and Home Affairs

Environment Energy and Culture

Economy, Business and Trade

Early Years, Education and Skills

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