Category Archives: Socialist Health Association

an interview with Michael Meacher

Over the last four years Socialism and Health has made a point of interviewing each health spokesperson of the Labour Party to give them a chance to talk about what they see as the priorities in health policy. Our last interview was with Gwyneth Dunwoody who has been succeeded by Michael Meacher. We visited him at the House of Commons in April. This is a summary of that interview.

What do you see as the priorities in health policy for the next Labour government?

Michael Meacher felt it isn’t enough just to talk about how much we spend. In the West we’re getting diminishing returns in terms of age specific mortality and morbidity rates, for increasing expenditure. In such a system there is no point in looking for efficiency by trimming the edges; instead a new approach has to be found. In the area of health the right combination of social and economic policies is crucial. There should be less emphasis on curative technology and more on prevention, health promotion and health education; that is, on changes in our way of life, as the major causes of illness today are all to do with social conditions.

He used the example of an overfed, under exercised person, who smokes and drinks in excess over a prolonged period and is then taken into hospital after a heart attack. Large amounts of money are spent on intensive treatment and care where­upon he or she returns home only to continue the lifestyle which is likely to generate further trouble. “We have got a health service, we’ve got health policies, but we’ve got anti-health social and economic policies.”

Mr. Meacher believed that we will only succeed in producing a significant qualitative improvement in health, and at reducing the incremental costs of doing that, when there is a fundamental change of lifestyle. “It is trying to get across this alternative perspective of health care that I think is our prime task between now and the next election.”

What do you feel the main effects of the last five years of Tory policies have been on the health service, and how do you see it developing in the future?

Michael Meacher focused on two areas. Firstly, the Tories’ claims about their increased  spending on the NHS didn’t stand up when looked at in detail. For example in terms of NHS pay and price increases rather than RPI figures, the increasing numbers of elderly people and the increasing costs of medical technology. He felt that since 1983 there had undoubtedly been a cutback and that this was sure to continue. Secondly, privatisation is going to take a toll. Not only is it ideologically offensive but it also leads to lower standards and lower pay. This is in a service where many people, particularly women, are already paid at exploitative rates. Even discrete medical units may get privatised over the next few years, such as the kidney unit in Wales.

In general Michael Meacher felt that the Tories are using a systematic and comprehensive approach in relation to their objectives and that none of this is good news for patients or the NHS. As a result, the health service is now set for a major fall in standards over the next few years.

How does that tie up with the defensive anti-cuts position that many people are being pushed into?

Michael Meacher felt that these positions weren’t in opposition but rather complementary. While it is essential to oppose the cuts in the context in which they are occurring now — i.e. as part of a general winding down of the NHS — we musn’t assume that what we had in 1979 or 1948 was okay. What is needed is an alternative scenario in which change and renewal of services and hospital stock occurs as part of the development of a better and more appropriate NHS. He reiterated this point by saying “It is not an adequate health policy to simply say that we’re opposed to the cuts and to privatisation and that when we get back in office we’ll restore it all.”

Having mentioned that an alternative perspective is essential in the development of a better health service, what do you see as the ways and means of encouraging prevention and health promotion?

While acknowledging that the opposition of vested interests within industry was fundamentally a power issue, Michael Meacher felt that there was much to be done in arousing public awareness of the issues involved. Dislocation in the food, tobacco and drugs industries would be inevitable if a health perspective was integrated into policies and the immensely powerful capitalist lobbies would indeed be hard to take on. However, if people were aware of the reasons for such a challenge they would be more likely to back policies for change and the chance of success would be much greater.

He felt that people would alter their way of life if they were more informed of the consequences of their lifestyle and knew what changes to make. Taking food as an example, he suggested that the findings of the James Report, which are ex­extremely important but have only really reached health professionals, should be widely advertised to the public on tubes and buses. Effective use of the media and advertising could be useful in spreading such information and keeping people informed about issues which concerned their health.

Michael Meacher has also set up a food policy group, the membership of which includes Professor James, Jeremy Bray, Bob Hughes (from the agricultural side) and himself and Frank Dobson. The aim is to publish a report, within a year, which will state clearly what a food policy intends to do, the reasons why, and good persuasive arguments to influence other people to support it. Such a policy would look for agreement with agriculture and the Treasury and would then be determined to negotiate for change. A Labour Party policy on food is long overdue; once produced, he felt it would be beneficial to liaise with other socialist groups in Europe in order to influence EEC policies.

In addition to the food policy group. Michael Meacher has himself set up seven other working parties. These include an alternative vision of health care, community care — involving prevention and health promotion, democratisation in the NHS, privatisation, health care for women, dentistry and, through the SHA and Harry Daile, he has recently asked a committee to look into ophthalmic services following the recent moves to privatise the optical services.

The formation of these small working partieis is intended to help overcome some of the problems faced by the previous social policy group of the NEC. With a fluctuating membership of between fifty and seventy people, the group spent much of its time making decisions at one meeting only to reverse them again at the next, depending on who turned up. The overall result was that policies were extremely slow to be developed. The new working parties will not be exclusive; papers and oral evidence from nonmembers will be an integral part of their working. Papers will be circulated in the party for modifi­cation and change but will be developed into policy in a far less amateurish and easy going fashion than has hitherto been used.

Why hasn’t the Labour Party had health as a greater priority recently?

Michael Meacher said there had been a bipartisan concensus about the NHS until Thatcher came into office. From now on he assured us it will have a higher profile in the Labour Party.

While admitting that health should have been given more attention in the past, it does now appear from opinion polls that people not only see the health service as an important issue but also as one on which the Labour Party has overwhel­mingly the best policies. Having stumbled on the jewel in our crown again, the Labour Party is going to support it economically and politically.

What do you feel about the Griffiths Report?

Michael Meacher said he felt sceptical to hostile about the report, but thought it had some good bits in it especially in relation to doctors’ power. The main problem is that it will lead to an increased centralisation of power with a much smaller democratic element. Along with plans for the FPCs in which all their members will be appointed, it is going to be much easier for the government to keep the financial lid on the health service by the simple use of administrative power. On the other hand he felt there is something to be said for re­dressing the balance away from the lack of cost and outcome consciousness that can result from unfettered clinical freedom.

How do you feel about the issue of nurses’ pay?

Apart from any other reasons, Michael Meachers sponsorship by COHSE prompted him into enthusiastic support for a fair wage for nurses! Nurses, along with all women workers in the NHS, were paid appallingly low wages and were clearly used to subsidise the health service. He felt that the Pay Review Body should be used to assess and fix nurses pay at a level which would stop them having to fight each year to increase a sub­standard wage. However, Mr. Meacher was realistic in saying that the key factor was finding sufficient funds to make an appropriate pay award. He felt that much could be gained from reducing the rip-offs by the drug companies and the monopoly suppliers, such as BOC and London Rubber Company. Just as important though, he felt there was no way around putting in more resources. The Labour Party was committed at the last election to 3% extra in real terms, but he would like it to be increased to 5%. If were going to put our money where our mouth is, thats the sort of sum its go to be.

During the interview with Michael Meacher, we were impressed by a number of points. First, his ideas seemed very much in line with current ‘progressive thinking about health and health care. Second, unlike many politicians, he welcomed ideas and discussion and was ready to acknowledge his own lack of expertise in specific areas. Third, his response to that was involvement of a wide range of individuals and groups. We felt he was genuinely concerned with the development of alternative perspectives in health care and was keen to work with all those who shared that concern. It seems that Labour Party health policies might in the future be much more respon­sive to the interests and needs of both the users and providers of health care. Hopefully we may now have the opportunity to start bridging the gap which has all too often separated politicians from those they represent.

Graham Bickler & Alison Hadley

July / August 1984

 

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NB it has not been possible to audit the accounts in time for the AGM. An audit report will be produced for the Central Council.

Income £33,005.05
Expenditure £30,311.98
unattributed income £0.00
Surplus £2,693.07

 

31.12.2016 31.12.2017
Cash at Bank
14 Day £23,910.26 £27922.28
Instant £0.00 £0.00
Paypal £1,488.27 £181.96
Current £1,137.54 £996.44
Total £26,536.07 £29,100.68
Increase in funds at bank £2,583.56
Credited late £0.00 £0.00
Cashed late £18.95 £0
overpayment £0.00 £0.00
Surplus £0.00 £0.00
Discrepancy £67.63 -£128.46
Balance at bank £26,517.12 £29,081.73
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2017 was a good year for the Association.  We saw a big increase in our membership and our new Chair  managed to organise a resolution about the NHS which was carried unanimously by the Labour Party conference to great acclaim.  We finally managed to make some progress on our policy discussions, both internally and in discussion with the Labour health team. Over the past couple of years it has been difficult to organise events because the volatile political situation, and elections, both external and internal, have diverted people’s attention. But now it seems possible. We organised a very high powered conference on public health which gives us some excellent policy building blocks.  We are now in a much better position to help developing Labour health and care policies. 

Membership

We started the year with 683 members and finished with 792.  141 joined during the year.  52 are in arrears. Some may have joined only to vote in the leadership election.  A lot of new members have joined using PayPal. PayPal notifies us if they cancel their annual payment

 

Members by geography based around branches, or potential branches.

area Current members
Greater London 202
West Midlands 96
Manchester 84
Yorkshire 57
Liverpool 52
Tyne-Tees 44
Home Counties 40
Wales 41
Scotland 35
Avon 35
East Midlands 28
Fenland 26
North Midland 25
Oxfordshire 18
Plymouth 16
Brighton 12
Preston 10
Kent 7
Rest of the World 5
Solent/Dorset 7
Ireland 2

Members classified by type.

Most members could be put in several classes, and for many I don’t know enough about them to put them in a category. But this gives some indication of our varied membership

Number TYPE
115 Labour activists
71  Individuals
57 Public health
53 Mental illness
49 GPs
44 Doctors
43 Cllrs – Labour
30 KONP etc
29 Academics
28 Non-execs
27 Secondary care
27 Nurses
23 MPs & peers – Lab
20 TU – health
19 CLP officers
15 Social care
14 CHC/HW Members etc
13 Management Health
12 Dentists
9 Community Health
8 Councillor Health lead lab
8 PPI staff
7 Socialist Societies
7 Elderly people
6 FT governors
6 Students
6 Professions allied to medicine
6 Pharma
5 Babies families, maternity,
5 Clinical science
5 CCG staff
5 Freelancers
5 Disabled people organsations
5 Carers

 


Year
2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Current members 651 677 654 672 683 792
Website Pages 915 974 1019 1043 1163
Website Posts 530 436 1124 1501 1853
Website Comments (cumulative) 2272 2501 2257 2863 3370
Website Page Views 338,415 375,511 410,000 382,045 408,288 347,000
Unique Visitors 131,303 158,180 181,281 171,000 204,596 171,062
Followers of the blog 360 418
Twitter Followers  1365 2845 4178 4839 5687 6104
Tweets (cumulative) 16,578 12,522 38,100 47,700 55,200
Facebook likes (cumulative) 1488 1757 1975 2067 2129 2349
Tweet impressions

(cumulative)

137,1800 204,700 322,400
Contacts database 40,888 42,310 39,039 36,292 36,242 35,993
Website Google Page Rank 5 4 4 4 4 4
Domain Authority 41 44

Affiliations

Unite didn’t manage to actually pay their affiliation fee in 2017, but this seems to be administrative confusion rather than a political decision and I hope their cheque is in the post.

We discovered during 2017 that socialist societies are allowed to have up to 5 delegates to each CLP, and this has been a useful recruitment incentive.  We haven’t paid much attention to this process before, but we may need to establish a procedure to enable members in a constituency to decide which of them should be delegates if we have more than 5 volunteers.  I think the only practicable approach to this is that any member who volunteers can be our delegate unless there is some reason to object.  This is a decision for branches, and for the officers in places where there is no active branch.

I put a lot of effort into supporting members in places where we didn’t have functioning branches – Staffordshire, Cornwall, Southport, North Wales, Cheshire, Shropshire, Yorkshire and Sussex and I’m pleased to report that we finished the year with more branches than we started.  But I don’t expect to see functioning branches in all those places any time soon.

This year we finally gave up on the paper version of our magazine, Socialism and Health, published fairly regularly and sent to all our members since 1965.  We weren’t alone. The Health Service Journal also abandoned its print edition this year.

Our website still attracts a lot of traffic, and the historical material gets a lot of appreciation.  But our on-line presence is not as active as I would like. I maintain an active Twitter feed, but our Facebook page is not very active.  I experimented with paid adverts on Facebook but that didn’t seem to be very effective, and we need to think harder about our work in this area.

External relationships

We have done our best to support Health Campaigns Together during the year, both with money and publicity. Salford University, quite uninvited, established a scheme to give SHA members reduced fees for their conferences. I’ve also done my best to help the Labour Campaign for Mental Health and Disability Labour. I’ve been co-opted to the executive of the NHS Active Alliance and the Transport and Health study group. And I’ve been encouraging the establishment of Doctors at the Deep End in Manchester. But close working with the other socialist societies is still more of an aspiration than a reality.

Money

Our income has been fairly buoyant this year, partly because of the increase in subscriptions, and partly because of advertising from the website. We have devised a method of publishing advertisements which makes them invisible, but satisfies the advertisers, who are actually only interested in getting a link which Google recognizes from our site to theirs. But our expenditure was considerably higher than expected. This was partly because of the public health conference – the most expensive event we have ever run, despite a contribution of £2000 from the David Stark Murray Trust, and partly because of a substantial increase in members expenses. We have more disabled members and officers than we used to and their costs are considerably greater than those of able bodied people.

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In the Nov/Dec ’80 issue of Socialism & Health‘ we published an interview with Stan Orme, who, at the time, was the shadow health minister. Since then Michael Foot has become the party leader and Gwyneth Dunwoody has taken over Stan Orme’s job. We felt that it would be interesting to see what her views were on broadly the same areas as those we asked Stan Orme about, so we interviewed her in early March.

This is a summary of that interview:

Alison: Which Tory policies are you most concerned with, with regard to health?

G.D.:  It’s their general attitude to health care that worries me, their intent to undermine the N.H.S. from the inside & particularly a 75/25 division of health care between the N.H.S. & private medicine.

Graham: What do you see as the next Labour government’s priorities for both reversing changes introduced by the Tories and in other ways?

G.D.:   The economy is going to be in a bad way & we’ll have to fight for spending on the N.H.S.  The particular priorities should be   a) capital expenditure and b) how to restore the personal social services, as community care is a mess at the moment.  This will be made worse by the proposed reorganisation, and the ‘cinderella’ disciplines will need particular help.

Graham: How would you link that with the Royal Commission & the Black Report?

G.D.: I’m wary of stating detailed priorities partly because the Black Report hasn’t been sufficiently analyzed. Doctors must be given incentives to go into neglected areas and an immediate boost should be given to N.H.S. morale. Current management techniques are thirty years out of date. H’s also important to defend existing NHS structures. The Labour Party must work out what it feels priorities are by the next election and give up sloganizing and substitute it with more concrete policies

Alison: How would a Labour Government tackle the tobacco industry?

G.D.: I think there has to be a total ban on advertising. There’s no evidence that the present government is planning to do this. Tobacco industry profits should be creamed off into the NHS.  Stop business practices that British companies practice in the Third World which would not be allowed here.

Alison: The   Black  Report   advocated  ‘phasing  out’  the British tobacco  industry  within  ten  years,  how do you  see that’?

G.D.: Workers in the tobacco industry must be consulted & redeployed, with public money being used to create Jobs.  If the companies  won’t  diversify, they  should   be  told  that  the  state  won’t  tolerate  their activities.

Alison:  The last Labour Government didn’t  do very much..

G.D.: I think there’s been a shift amongst the public in attitudes towards smoking & smokers – the Labour movement has always been aware of the effects. Predictably, it’s the middle classes who are changing their habits & classes IV & V who aren’t. The press don’t campaign against the industry and the Sunday Times appears to have been ‘nobbled’ by a section of it recently.

 Graham: Do you think a Labour Government could stand up to the tobacco industry? that’s what  the  real  issue  is,  it’s  very  different  producing  educational  material from tackling multinationals.

G.D.: “I  think that all governments  are able  to  withstand attacks where the majority of the people actually understand  what  they ‘re  doing  and why. I believe it now is something in which a Labour Government would have to lead.

Graham: The Black Report uses the tobacco industry as an example of how health may be improved by political action & they later suggest  that  we need  a ‘food policy’ in much the same way as we need a tobacco  policy.   This would  presumably involve education, food  subsidies  and  tackling  the  food industry.

G.D.: This  would  be a long  term  proposition.  While   I   feel  that nutrition should be made political and food policy  become   a priority   for   the  Labour  Party whether enough  work has  been  done  or  enough real political thought has been given to that sort of development I doubt . This sort of stuff is not yet a high priority for the party. Rickets may well soon appear, the school meals service is getting worse. This may make nutrition more political.

Alison: Shouldn’t we  be  making  it  political before we get these problems?

G.D.:Yes,  but  I’m  trying  to  avoid  a  commitment  to such policies   when  there will be enormous problems. We should  have   a  limited  set of proposals that you’ve  got to do & can do, & fights that you can defend. Nutrition is well up on my priorities but at the moment is low down on party priorities. That may change.

Alison: How would you   like  to see occupational  health developing?

G.D.: I’m in favour of it developing as part of the N.H.S. Some Trade Unions want it more closely linked  to the Health & Safety Executive.

Alison :How’s about private health care, in particular occupational aspects?

G.D.:I have  always  persuaded  Trade Unions not  to negotiate private healthcare as part of wages deals. Part   of   the   problem is that   many   people have forgotten what private healthcare was like. They don’t realise all its implications in particular the exclusions for long term support.

Graham:  How do you solve that; as part of the  problem of how you project socialist health policies?

G.D.: That’s part of our responsibility in the House of Commons & part yours. Once people see the real cost of private health  care  they’ll swing  back,  but the N.H.S. may be damaged in the interim. What will safeguard the NHS in the long run is people unders tanding the implications of private treatment.

Alison: What about pay beds within the NHS.?

G.D.: I think they should be phased out very y quickly indeed; even if the insurance companies would like this,  the  NHS has  to  be a  fully comprehensive health service & I  think  that private practice should be right outside it. There will be a growth of some kind of private medicine & it should be licensed. Private units use N.H.S. trained staff without any contribution to their training and I don’ t see why you should have, for example, private hospitals operating alongside NHS. hospitals that haven’t got sufficient nurses.   Maybe private units that use N. H.S. trained staff should have to contribute very substantially to the N.H.S.

Graham: In the Black Report the abolition of child poverty is suggested as a means of combating preventable disease.  This  would   involve   taxation policy, child benefits & possibly an incomes policy. What do you feel about this?

G.D.:       Incomes policies are very problematic.  We do need an extended view of health care,  but  the  implications of the Black Report have not  been  fully debated in the  Labour movement.

Graham:   Why   has health had a lowish priority in the Labour Party for some years?  It had always been a central issue for socialists.

G.D.: We’d got complacent ab o u t health care, t he problems were thought to be specific but overall things were O..K. Under this government it ‘s become clear t½h at the service is  not  good  enough  and  the Black Report came at the right time. Michael  Foot feels very strongly that health is one  of  the  most important  things  that  any socialist can ever be concerned about.

Alison: Inequaliti1es in health  have  been   known  for  some time though.

G.D.: Yes but mainly to experts and not  to ordinary Labour Party members. The Black Report was well written, very well argued & very cogently produced.’

Graham:   What two or three areas of legislation would you like to see the next Labour Government enacting?

G .D .:Difficult  because  in  the  past  we’ve  been  bound  to priorities  without  flexibility but

  • Improving management techniques t o get back some sense of purpose about the NHS among staff.
  • Neglected areas like mental health should be given a boost
  • I want to see   the  whole battle of private health care fought very energetically I really think that’ s one where we’ve got to stop pussyfooting about.
  • Lots   of   other things including day care abortion facilities.

The next government must set out a simple set of steps & defend them in agreement with the workers, the party   &  the trade unions.  That   will   mean hospital services & something constructive in relation  to  the personal social  services .  We’ve got to think about how to channel money, how to monitor things, where our priorities lie and other difficult areas.

Graham:    Can health considerations be brought into other areas of policy making?

G.D.:  Inevitably and it’s happening now, because in local authorities, cuts in their revenue has led to worse social services which has produced increased dependence on the NHS which is itself  under attack. The personal social services need protecting.

Throughout the interview, Mrs. Dunwoody emphasised the need   for the next Labour   government   to have a   list of priorities for    health & health-care  legislation  which could  be both fought for & implemented. While those priorities, & the details of policy,  have  not  yet  been formulated, she intends to see  that  they are during the period  before  the  next  election. We felt that she showed a good grasp of the  problems & was fairly   sanguine  about   th e  differences  between  her   views & likely party policy. We left feeling relatively hopeful.

Graham Bickler

Alison Hadley

 

 

 

 

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Sheffield Quaker Meeting House 13 January 2018

Present: Mike Roberts. Tony Beddow, Peter Mayer, Vivien Walsh, Rene Smit, Lawrence Cotter, Steve Bedser, Brian Fisher, Irene leonard, Gurinder S Josan, Alison Scouller, Alex Scott-Samuel

In attendance:  Martin Rathfelder, John Carlisle, Deborah Cobbett, Dave Shields, Simon Duffy, Jim Steinke

Apologies for absence: Caroline Walsh, Jean Hardiman Smith, Helen Cranage, David Mattocks, Katrina Murray, Jos Bell, Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe, Andy Thompson, James Gill, Mike Grady, Judith Varley, Tom Fitzgerald, Neil Nerva, Vivien Giladi, Brian Gibbons, David Davies, John Lipetz

1.Minutes of the meeting in Chester  were agreed as accurate

2. Matters arising

  1. SHA policy on maternity services: Alison and others are interested in developing our maternity policy. She has a draft in preparation. She was encouraged to keep a wide perspective, including for instance, mental health. Alison will circulate as it develops and link in Brian.
  2. Young Labour/recruitment: We had a delegate, James Gill, to the Young Labour conference. A resolution was passed on Mental Health. More thoughts from the young members to be collected to discuss recruiting. Martin is trying to get a list of secretaries of Labour Students. MedSin could be a useful organisation for recruitment.
  3. NHS 70th anniversary materials: Martin had a meeting with design expert and is expecting some ideas shortly. Plans to reprint  “In Place of Fear” Designer was interested in  Socialist Health socks? Note to Jon Ashworth – what plans for 70th anniversary? A joint letter from Jon and SHA to all LP members? A note for many of us to write on the NPF website about this issue.

3. Director’s report – Martin had produced a written report which will go to the AGM.

Discussion re West Midlands and branch catchment areas generally. Tony says we don’t know which of our members are also members of the Labour Party. SHA already has delegates to all the CLPs in Wales. If we write to all members, we could ask whether they are party members? Martin creates categories of people in the database, selecting for skills. People could be filed under many categories if they have many skills. Martin will investigate the General Data Protection Regulation  rules as they apply to SHA.

At the moment, any SHA member who is a Party member can become a CLP delegate. MR will consult officers if there are more than 5 members wanting to be delegates to a CLP if they are not in a branch. Tony: Should they be mandated? He will write a discussion document for officers.

4. Labour Party matters:

  1. Follow up of Conference resolution
    Alex: composite 8 effectively proposed renationalising the NHS. Some aspects of the policy appear not to have been followed through properly. There are, for instance, no new campaign materials reflecting the new Labour Party policy as result of it. Tony: the NPF has been struck by the Composite and will be discussing it specifically in early Feb. Mike: silence is deafening from LP re Comp8. Tony: renationalizing the NHS will be expensive, eg buying out care homes to nationalise social care. Labour is in power in some areas– advice is needed for those who want and need to make decisions about local planning beyond saying no to ACOs. Local discussions may be best. A meeting will be set up to address this in Sheffield
  2. Socialist Societies
    The Democracy Review may result in better participation for SocSocs. One suggestion is for SocSocs to share administration. Alex had meeting with the Review team and he circulated the list of questions that had been raised:

These are questions which arose during an initial discussion with members of the Democracy Review.

  1. Should membership of SHA and other socialist societies be open to Labour party members only?
  2. Should block voting continue in Labour Party elections?
  3. Should socialist societies be funded by subscriptions or by the Labour Party?
  4. Can socialist societies’ representation on the NEC be justified?
  5. Should there be a Socialist Societies Forum?
  6. Should there be defined eligibility criteria for the recognition of socialist societies?
  7. How should the existence of several societies focusing on a single issue be dealt with (eg JLM, JVL; Fabians, Momentum)?
  8. Can joining socialist societies be seen as buying power?
  9. Should conference policy carry executive authority with Labour councils and councillors?
  10. How should the London-centric nature of the socialist societies executive be dealt with?
  11. How can Labour Party policy be ‘gender proofed’?
  12. How can Labour be engendered?

A long discussion suggested overall that:

  • we need to allow non-party members to be members of SHA, because they have enormous skills. But we need to find a mechanism to keep party issues only to party members. And non-LP members should not oppose LP policies.
  • The party cannot insist that there is only one SocSoc per topic or group.
  • There should be criteria that define what constitutes a SocSoc but there are many practical issues in enforcing any fixed criteria.
  1. Policy development process from here: The SHA is in conversation with the Shadow Team on policy development. The topics are confidential. Brian outlined an approach to getting the best people to discuss with the Shadow Team and this was agreed: we shall request a 100 word document from all members and the policy team will shortlist. If needed, we shall ensure that we add to that list specific skills needed. Despite concern, the need for confidentiality was agreed. A key issue is the financing streams the whole manifesto can draw on and the demands coming from the different spending departments.

6. AGM and elections Notice to go out shortly

  1. AOB
    MR asked us all to sign up to be governors of the Manchester Trust

Dave: contact LP governors and ask to them to become members of SHA
Alison: A Welsh BBC programme is looking for women with experience or information on back-street abortions.
Brian: There will be a Demo 3rd Feb responding to the Winter NHS crisis.

  1. Next meeting:  Annual General Meeting

 

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2017 was a good year for the Association.  We saw a big increase in our membership and our new Chair  managed to organise a resolution about the NHS which was carried unanimously by the Labour Party conference to great acclaim.  We finally managed to make some progress on our policy discussions, both internally and in discussion with the Labour health team. Over the past couple of years it has been difficult to organise events because the volatile political situation, and elections, both external and internal, have diverted people’s attention. But now it seems possible. We organised a very high powered conference on public health which gives us some excellent policy building blocks.  We are now in a much better position to help developing Labour health and care policies. 

We have managed to re-establish working branches of the Association in Liverpool, Cheshire, and, hopefully, Manchester. We need to do more to get to know our new members and involve them in our activities.  We have been doing our best to support Labour parties in the places where it matters – marginal constituencies.  That isn’t easy, because our members, unsurprisingly, are mostly in places where Labour is in a majority.  But we have been doing what we can in Southport, North Wales, Cornwall and the marginal seats in London.  And we need to do more to get our new members involved.

This year we finally gave up on the paper version of our magazine, Socialism and Health published fairly regularly and sent to all our members since 1965.  We weren’t alone.  The Health Service Journal also abandoned its print edition this year.

It’s not clear yet what the outcome of the Labour Party’s democracy review will be, but it has already had the beneficial effect of bringing the Socialist Societies closer together.  We hope to work more closely with them next year.  Too often we find people in the Labour Party with a keen professional interest in health who didn’t know we existed, and the other societies have similar problems.

This year we are looking forward to the NHS 70th birthday celebrations in July.

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You can review the presentations from our recent conference on public health:

We asked each speaker to propose no more than five priorities. Some of them, happily, coincided and I’ve only chosen one where their seemed to be a substantial overlap.  Prof Nazroo didn’t feel able to produce five simple proposals and Tim Lang is not yet ready to release his priorities to public scrutiny.   But we still have a lot more than five.  So you are invited to decide which are  your top five priorities.  I’m afraid I have mangled some of these ideas to get them short enough.  So these words are mostly mine, rather than those of our distinguished contributors. I apologise but that is what happens when you try and produce evidence based policies and get involved in the messy business of politics.  The subtleties get lost.

Public health priorities

  • Develop universal, comprehensive, high-quality early Childhood care and Education. (10%, 8 Votes)
  • Invest in our public health workforce (10%, 8 Votes)
  • Ensure resources for health are distributed to reduce inequalities in life chances between places. (10%, 8 Votes)
  • Move from Financial Reporting to Financial, social and environmental reporting (9%, 7 Votes)
  • Invest in local public health services (8%, 6 Votes)
  • A new public health bill to give more state power against threats to health (8%, 6 Votes)
  • Implement existing laws that protect conditions that create and protect health and fairness (6%, 5 Votes)
  • Increase the public health benefits of the social security system. (6%, 5 Votes)
  • Measure value and benefit, not just cost of sustainable interventions (5%, 4 Votes)
  • Radical overhaul of gambling regulation (4%, 3 Votes)
  • Minimum unit pricing for alcohol (4%, 3 Votes)
  • Levys on the unhealthy commodity industries (4%, 3 Votes)
  • Build an energy economy based on renewables. (4%, 3 Votes)
  • Review of the marketing of unhealthy commodities and services to children, young people and the vulnerable (4%, 3 Votes)
  • New trade agreements to protect and promote the publics health (3%, 2 Votes)
  • Devolve power – increasing the influence that the public has over how resources are used. (3%, 2 Votes)
  • Redefine community health and prosperity beyond materialism (3%, 2 Votes)
  • Invest in public transport (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Take cycling seriously. Invest in infrastructure (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Default 20mph speed limit nationally for residential streets (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Stop blaming do something about our environment so that it’s easier for us to live healthier and longer. (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Better road crossing facilities – more crossings, more time (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 17

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Supporting the Labour health team was what the Socialist Medical Association was set up to do.  It was our President, Somerville Hastings, who proposed the resolution at the Labour Party conference in Southport in 1934 to establish a National Health Service.  We’re proud of that moment.  And we’re proud that our resolution on the future of the NHS was passed at the Labour Party conference in Brighton this year.  But it took twelve years from 1934 to actually establish the NHS.  You can read an account on our website.  Passing resolutions at conference is necessary but not sufficient.  I don’t know exactly what happened in 1934, but I do know that the resolution passed in September was cobbled together in a smoke-free room in Brighton on a Sunday night.  We can’t leave it there.  We need to develop our ideas.  And we don’t want the process to take 12 years.

It was Tony Blair who claimed in 1997 that we had 24 hours to save the NHS and campaigners have been making similar claims ever since. It was never quite clear what we were saving it from, nor whether it had been saved.  These campaigns go down very well with Labour supporters, but they don’t seem to have the political impact we need with uncommitted voters.  Although the NHS has been missing more and more targets the experience of most patients, most of the time, is still positive. No charges have been introduced, and nobody influential seems to be suggesting that they should.  The 95% target in A&E departments has been missed every month since December 2015, but even in the worst places more than 70% of patients are usually seen within 4 hours. Waiting times for elective surgery have been rising steadily, but there hasn’t been a huge increase in private health insurance. Most patients in England are treated within six months.  Things are clearly getting worse, but the real disaster area is not the NHS but social care.  And the NHS is in much worse shape in Northern Ireland.

If we are going to campaign effectively in the places where it matters – marginal constituencies – we clearly need to highlight the decline in standards, the moves to privatise services, the magical thinking which is behind most of the plans for NHS “transformation”. It’s obvious that we need more money and more staff.  But we also need a positive vision of what we would do with more resources, and it needs to include social care as well as health.

Even Jeremy Hunt seems to accept that the era of markets and competition has ground to a halt.  We suddenly have the possibility of a radical Labour government.  Developing a better care system based on public services in a way that commands support from electors but is actually deliverable is hard.  We’ve started on a process of policy development and we need now to work with Labour nationally and locally to produce a credible vision of the future of health and care. All this talk about devolution and transformation gives us opportunities not just to campaign against what is proposed but also to argue for the services we want to see, and possibly in some places to actually begin to develop them.

We need help to develop our ideas.  There could be an election at any time in the next four years and we need to be ready.  We’ve agreed a short summary of our position but we now want to hear from people who can contribute ideas.

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1 – 4 pm  at Chester Friends Meeting House

Present:  Alex Scott-Samuel (ASS), Alison Scouller (AS), Brian Gibbons (BG),  Irene Leonard (IL), John Lipetz (JL), Mike Roberts (MRo), Vivien Walsh (VW), Helen Cranage (HC),Vivien Giladi (VG) Tony Beddow (TB), David Davies (DD), Judith Varley(JV), Martin Rathfelder (MRa)  + Lesley Mahmoud, Corrie Lowry, Shaun McBride, Kathrin Thomas, Piyush Pushkar and Pauline Cutress

Apologies:  Jean Hardiman-Smith (JHS), Brian Fisher, Pater Mayer, Jos Bell, Andy Thompson, Mike Grady, Lawrence Cotter, Fiona Twycross and Caroline Walsh, David Mattocks, Rene Smit

Liverpool Women’s Hospital

Lesley Mamoud opened the meeting with a brief comprehensive overview of the current situation of the hospital and campaign and answered the questions and comments raised.  This took place first as Lesley had to leave immediately afterwards.  She left campaign literature   Further details: https://saveliverpoolwomenshospital.com   www.facebook.com/SAVELWH/ and the Campaign’s Response to the CCG’s review of Women’s and neo-natal services, available at http://www.labournet/other/1612/clinical(1.pdf)

In summary, comments and questions mentioned financial, delays and construction problems with the developers of the new Royal Hospital, Carillion, where some provision for maternity care would be available (although the official approach is for home births ignoring the poor CQC Report on the alternative private 1:1 home maternity service in Wirral), huge cuts at Alder Hey because of PFI debts, the national critical state of peri-natal physical and mental health, including the needs of pregnant women with more complex conditions (including women of older age).  There is talk of ‘pop-up’ maternity units – no-one knew what these might be.  Ambulance crews were not to receive extra maternity training and this would be particularly crucial in rural areas with miles of narrow winding roads to the nearest maternity units in rural areas like Cumbria and Devon /Cornwall.  Liverpool’s lord mayor, Joe Anderson and the Liverpool City Region elected mayor, Steve Rotheram, had both ignored the very successful campaign to save the Women’s Hospital.

Action 1   VG suggested Lesley wrote an article for Health Campaigns Together – about 800 words to broaden cover more widely across the country

Action 2  VG and IL proposed SHA should not just support and adopt the campaign but develop a proper SHA policy which would be relevant to maternity services in relation to STPs everywhere.  ASS, AS and JHS to develop this and report at the next SHA Council meeting

MRa said there was an SHA blog on maternity policy

*

Apologies:  as listed above. There were 4 SHA members present as observers: Corrie Lowry, Kathrin Thomas, Pauline Cutress  and Shaun McBride.  Members are allowed to contribute to the discussion with the permission of the Chair.

Minutes of last meeting accepted.  No amendments.  No matters arising

Labour Party matters.  Brighton Conference reports. 

Women’s Conference:   There were no official delegates from SHA as places had all been allocated before members applied.  AS reported it was the largest ever, very lively, transitional to making LP policy.  Dawn Lodge had spoken on ending poverty, sanitary products to be included at food banks, and statements on reproductive rights

Main Conference:  Alex’s (ASS) contribution was very well received.  He gave a resume of the Conference including the evening SHA fringe sessions.  Jon Ashworth had agreed the NHS is a priority issue and the STPs must be halted.  A Labour Briefing piece ‘The NHS at Conference’ is on the website and Conference motion 8 is on the KONP site and on the SHA site.  The re-instatement vote for motion 8 was unanimous and is now LP policy and amounts to a radical complete re-nationalisation.  ASS and Sue Richards contributed substantially to this debate.

Action all members:  All Labour councillors, MPs etc.. should be implementing the re-instatement of the NHS and SHA members, particularly those who are CLP delegates, are urged to remind them.  The manifesto and the NPF report referred to ‘preferred providers’ and profits, suggesting there is NOT a total provision from the public sector.  This was referred back to the Executive by conference.

Comments etc:   JL thanked ASS for his contribution to Conference, for returning SHA to socialist values, and asked that this should be minuted.  VW added her congratulations.

IL spoke of the book ‘The NHS plot’ which highlights the extensive collusion underway with privatisation.  Re-instatement: So far, only 30 English / Welsh MPs but all Scottish MPs had signed up to the online NHS takeback pledge.   VG commented that we must not despair as many employees are forced to implement policies with which they disagree

Young Labour    There had been attempts to recruit medical students.  ASS said it was a matter of raising awareness and this could be best done whilst teaching

Action:   Shaun McBride (SM) suggested seeking SHA recruits amongst nurses, pharmacists, psychologists, podiatrists, lab workers, paramedics, social workers – anyone working in health – and was keen to support local campaigns.  MRo said the Peoples’ Assembly had many members and we could liaise with them.  DD said the videos from the Labour Party Conference had been seen by millions and we needed to make better use of social media especially through medical and health related students and student unions

Democracy Review   MR referred to Katy Clark’s work on the Democracy Review, particularly to elements concerning Women’s Conference, BAME, Young People and Electing the Leader.  There was an expressed desire to meet with all the societies – but uncertainty whether this meant societies together or separately.  Malcolm Powers had suggested we need to unpick our affiliation to be like the trade unions.  It was agreed that SHA should have position statements on each element of the review.  DD commented on the leadership of the Review and wondered if it might lead to a battle for the ideology of the Labour Party.  AS said that 1 member 1 vote had already been rejected in Wales

Action:  VG suggested a separate meeting on policy review so SHA is properly recognised and this was agreed.   IL had attended the NW Conference in Blackpool and noted SHA was not represented; it too was the largest conference to date.  The NHS briefing was disappointing, with Trades Union delegates seemingly unsure what they were doing there, tho’ they were supposed to feed into the Democracy Review.  She liked Katy Clark who seemed keen to talk with everyone.  There was surprise at our meeting that Trades Unions were not particularly interested and it was suggested it would be useful if national and regional reps could provide some detailed information on the issues

Action MRa:  ASS proposed all members should participate.  MRa was asked to send a newsletter to all members, with dead-lines, a sensible timeframe and with some suggestions to help focus ideas.

Visit to NHS England  Brian Fisher and ASS (representing SHA) had been invited to Skipton House to meet NHS-England – the particular individual they met was Simon Stevens’ Director of Communications.  Simon Stevens had until 2005 been a member of SHA and was previously a Labour Councillor in Brixton.  Alex left some SHA application forms there.  Generally it was thought this was probably a fishing expedition for NHSE.  Alex and Brian are due to meet Jon Ashworth and JL urged Alex to be firm with him about dumping the STPs, and to have proper funding for health so England met N European standards.

Director’s Report   MRa reported 68 new members since June.  Up to 5 SHA delegates could be appointed to each CLP and to attempt balance re gender, ethnicity etc.. if more than 5 were keen to be delegates.  MRa said marches were less effective than local campaigns to save particular hospitals /services.

Next year’s public demos, the 70th birthday of the NHS.  A big march in London in March was less popular  than a July event since it demanded time and energy and perhaps used resources which would be better spent in July.  MRa suggested reprinting Nye Bevan’s essay on the NHS, and that was approved.  The newspaper Health Campaigns Together (HCT) was supporting another Spring demo in central London and an event to celebrate the 70th birthday of the NHS.  Both KONP (non-political) and HCT (political) produced some excellent campaign materials, all freely available to us.   MRa spoke on campaigning in marginal constituencies.  His lodger (a professional campaign manager) had suggested adopting 2 themes and targeting marginals in the Midlands.

Action  MRa to explore further and circulate some more developed concepts.

Health Policy Recommendations – Summary

  • End privatisation. JL asked if ‘planning’ could replace ‘commissioning’ throughout the document as it was essential for democratic and accountable planning in all aspects of health, and it was necessary to re-build socially cohesive communities.  ASS reminded us that discussion should be in a comradely fashion even when it inevitably becomes heated.   Brian Fisher, Tony Jewell and everyone who had contributed to the Report were thanked for their considerable work.
  • Primary and Community Care. JL stated public dental provision needs to be increased; it was becoming ever more difficult to access as privatisation progressed.  There was concern that Boots and SuperDrug were destroying small pharmacies too and that the independent contractor status of GPs was also threatened.  BG registered his concerns about growing inequalities in all aspects of health.  He asked for the Inverse Care Law to be acknowledged.
  • Mental Health needs attention particularly. The 5YFV has a section which no-one at the meeting had read.

Action  JV and all to read and comment next meeting

Local Branch Reports.  ASS asked for agreement on the notice required – 4 weeks for an AGM and 2 weeks for normal meetings.  JV gave a brief report of the successful meeting of the Liverpool City Region group in October.  Justin Madders, MP for Ellesmere Port and Neston gave us an excellent summary of the most recent political developments and a lively Q and A followed.  The meeting had been widely advertised and attracted about 40 attendees including Councillors from North and South of the Mersey.  It was our first public meeting.

There was a brief discussion on marketing promotional products to supplement the tee-shirts

There was no other business

Next meeting will be 13 Jan in Sheffield

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The SHA is committed to NHS care, free at the point of use and funded out of general taxation, provided by public bodies. We challenge austerity which we agree is a political choice not an economic necessity.

We recognise that the devolved nations make their own policies. These draft policies apply mainly to England.

A NATIONAL HEALTH AND CARE SERVICE

We call on Labour to bring together our separate health and social care systems to become one unified care system driven by the political values and professional / organisational principles that underpin the NHS. This can be achieved by a gradual, non-disruptive process.

The political values needed are:

  • a system with national standards;

  • funded from progressive taxation;

  • delivered by locally accountable bodies that rely on committed staff many of whom have professional training and professionally established responsibilities;

  • evidence based policies
  • relying on the notion of “co-production” between service users and professional staff – people playing an active role in their care and professionals welcoming, respecting and responding to that role.

We call on Labour to adequately fund the National Health and Care Service, reaching the upper quartile of EU average spend, so that it provides a comprehensive service.

Discussion paper on NHS Governance

AN END TO PRIVATISATION

We call on Labour to restore the duty of the Secretary of State to deliver a comprehensive, universal, publicly provided and managed NHS, meeting clinical need, free at the point of use and funded out of general taxation, provided by public bodies. This needs to be achieved with as little disruption as possible. 

The SHA wants to eliminate the private sector except in exceptional and transient circumstances. This needs to be achieved with as little disruption as possible.

The NHS Bill 2016-17 provides a model for legislation in the first weeks of a Labour Government. Legislation should include the relief of NHS bodies from PFI debt.

Commissioning will be replaced by planning, based on needs and assets assessment.  Wales and Scotland offer excellent examples. Planning must be separate from provision and free of any form of conflict of interest or undue influence. Planning functions must be democratically accountable and cannot be given to the private sector under any circumstances.

The NHS will no longer regard Foundation Trusts as free-standing competitive corporations. Foundation Trusts will be reintegrated into the NHS family.

New Models of Care

The NHS England Accountable Care System has created 44+ local health services to replace England’s NHS, bypassing Parliamentary debate. Accountable Care Systems will provide limited services on restricted budgets. We can already see the effects of such austerity, with the long term increase in life expectancy stalled since 2010.  These New Models of Care and the government’s NHS asset sell-off result directly from the 5 Year Forward View currently being implemented via ‘Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships’. We therefore call on the Party to reject the 5 Year Forward View in its totality.

SHA supports the commitment to restore our NHS by reversing privatisation and halting Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships. This demands more than amending the 2012 Health & Social Care Act; we must restore our fully-funded, comprehensive, universal, publicly-provided and owned NHS without user charges, using the NHS Bill (2016-17) as a legislative starting point.

Discussion document on Enduring Aims and Principles

ADDRESSING THE SOCIAL DETERMINANTS OF HEALTH

Addressing the social determinants of health is the foundation for health and wellbeing. Access to clean water and safe waste disposal; social and affordable housing which provides enough space, affordable and efficient heating; clean air, indoors and outdoors; good education to achieve universal literacy and numeracy; jobs that protect health and ensure adequate income; and an environment which promotes healthy transport, green spaces and public amenities should all become elements in a holistic approach to public health.

We support the child poverty abolition target for 2020.

This has implications for the public health service:

  • Chief Medical Officers and District Directors of Public Health need to be professionally independent, reporting annually on the health and health inequalities of their populations and their recommendations on priorities.

  • Communities and our relationships with them and between them and the statutory sector are key to health protection and resilience. The SHA is committed to creating the conditions whereby communities can increasingly share decisions with the statutory sector, thereby increasing confidence and health.

SOCIAL CARE AND INDEPENDENCE

Savage cuts have resulted in about 40% fewer people receiving social care now than in 2009, with severe cuts in other local support services. The human rights of disabled and older people have been ignored. The current system is out-of-date in its assumptions about what disabled and older people want and need and tends to reinforce negative images. Instead of respecting people as contributing citizens and family members, the system has adopted a wasteful consumerist ideology. Too often, in an over-pressurised service, patients and service users are not being treated with sufficient respect and dignity. This requires an end to the 15 minute social care packages.

We call for a new kind of social care, not more of the same.

The key principles for any future system of long term care must include:

  1. Universal coverage – The need for long-term care is part of the normal public sector services and should be treated just as health and education.

  1. Maximum risk-pooling – The most efficient way of insuring ourselves against the costs of impairment or frailty is to all pool resources in order to cover that risk, as with the NHS.

  2. Equity – The system should be equitable and should not discriminate against people because of condition, age or geography.

  3. Entitlement – All citizens should benefit from the system and should not be disadvantaged by income or ability to pay. The system should be funded from general taxation and be free at the point of use, as with the NHS.

  4. Control – All citizens should be able to get the right flexible support to meet their needs, to be able take the level of control that is right for them and their families.

The three key elements of the proposal are:

  1. Fund a universal system and end means-testing – Social care on the same footing as healthcare, funded from general taxation, with resources distributed on the basis of need, free at the point of need.
  2. Invest in citizenship and community – Social care must offer support that people and families can shape to their circumstances, and that helps people contribute as citizens and strengthens family and community life.

  3. End privatisation and the complexity of the current system – Social care must be integrated into one national system that invests resources locally and ends the wasteful procurement systems that currently undermine human rights.

These principles are in line with current developments across OECD countries.

Discussion document – Policy Proposal for Social Care

PRIMARY AND COMMUNITY CARE

It is still true that the availability of good medical care tends to vary inversely with the population’s need for it and this is particularly true in primary care.

The SHA is concerned that general practice under the Tories may go the way of dentistry, pharmacy and optometry, with co-payments becoming the norm. The SHA wants to eliminate the private sector except in exceptional and transient circumstances.

The SHA does not support GPs being responsible for planning although they must be centrally involved, alongside other key stakeholders.

The SHA wants to see improved access to primary care, with continuing personal care. This will require more clinicians and more and better use of IT. We sympathise with GPs’ frustration and agree that the government’s proposals for primary care are too little too late. We need a comprehensive new set of arrangements to support, incentivise and energise primary care.

Independent Contractor status

There are advantages and disadvantages to the independent contractor status of GPs. The SHA recommends a trial of a mixed economy, where in some areas primary care is salaried and in others as it is now, evaluating comparative benefits and risks.

Planning Primary Care

Primary care must be planned and managed rather than just administered which is the present predominant model. We recommend primary care workforce planning and joint multi-disciplinary training.

Integration

We should have a large-scale trial with a fully integrated provider which covers delivery of all primary, secondary, mental health and social care free at the point of use, for a single County or City.

We also recommend:

  • investment in treatment and prevention of mental health problems in children and young people,
  • a long-term plan for health promotion,
  • community-based home care treatment and prevention. This requires more District Nurses and Health Visitors, better paid and supported ,
  • Informal carers need to be fully supported. We support an increase for all carers’

THE MYTH OF THE DEMOGRAPHIC TIME-BOMB

The SHA rejects the concept that an ageing population results in unacceptably high costs. We are proud to have an increasing number of older people whom we value. Older people have falling mortality, less morbidity, and are more economically active than before. Some forms of disability are postponed to later years. Increased life expectancy means more years lived in good health.

Older people contribute almost £40 billion more to the UK economy annually than they receive in state pensions, welfare and health services. It is not age but nearness to death that accounts for health expenditure. Most acute medical care costs occur in the final months of life, the age at which these occur having little effect. According  to European research, health expenditure on older age groups is high because a larger percentage of people in those age cohorts die within a short period of time.

The SHA therefore wishes to see an evidence-based discussion on policies for a healthy ageing population, as part of developing the National Health and Care Service.

Discussion document on Primary And Community Care And The Myth Of The Demographic Time-Bomb

MENTAL HEALTH

Mental Health services see demand increasing by 5-10% for adults over the last 3-4 years, and by 30-40% for children and young people. There are delays accessing care partly because of worsening shortages of staff.

The SHA recognises that societal factors impact on mental wellbeing and illness. These include social deprivation, debt, poor accommodation and security of tenure, inadequate community and family support networks. Socio-economic inequalities have independent impacts: being judged socially inferior has negative effects on physical and mental health, even for those illnesses with a genetic component. We need to promote a social model of care rather the narrow medical model which is particularly unsuited to mental health and addiction services.

The SHA supports implementation of the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health, including parity of funding for prevention and treatment, research into treatments and alternatives to medication, with funding for related social care. We support the Manifesto’s ring fenced mental health budget.

We also recommend:

  1. A National Service Framework for Mental Health provision, with an emphasis on talking therapies and advocacy.

  2. Enhanced mental health services for children and young people, including school-based prevention with more school nurses and health visitors, ready access to CAMHS and better and more inpatient provision.

  3. A strategy for reduction of excess mortality rates for people with serious mental illness including suicide prevention strategies, with improved provision for acute MH emergencies including supporting friends and families. 

  4. Reducing stigma with more information about mental illness,how to self help and early intervention.

Discussion document on Mental Health Policy

DEMOCRATIC, ACCOUNTABLE AND TRANSPARENT HEALTHCARE

The SHA recommends a commitment to responding not only to needs as defined by clinicians, but needs as defined by users, carers and citizens. We see the process as a meeting of experts: the NHS offers its clinical expertise, while the patient is an expert on their own strengths and the impact of ill-health.

Working with NHS users applies at a macro level (planning local and national NHS services in collaboration with citizens and users) and at an individual level in the consultation between patient and clinician with shared decision-making. The community can, with help, identify key issues that matter to them and work with the statutory sector to address those issues – this process protects health. Community development is one key mechanism.

We would like to see a totally independent patient- and public-led and adequately funded Community Health Council type system.

Discussion document on the Organisation Of Health And Care Services

BREXIT AND THE NHS AND CARE SERVICE

The NHS and social care are dependent on overseas labour. We would like to see recruitment and employment of staff from the EU and other countries allowed. We want Labour’s policy on Brexit to focus on the economy and free movement.

EU law includes measures to achieve equivalence of labour, health and safety standards in its trade agreements with countries such as Vietnam and Peru. The European Court of Justice has consistently emphasised a high level of human health in its judgements and it is notable that in its negotiating position on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, the European Union was arguing for a judicial model of dispute resolution. There is a real danger that these protections will be lost through Brexit. Indeed, the main justification for many of those advocating Brexit is to remove these protections.

Discussion document on International Trade

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PresentHelen Cranage, David Davies, Brian Fisher, Tom Fitzgerald, Vivien Giladi, James Gill, Tony Jewell, Sina Lari, Irene Leonard, John Lipetz,  Mike Roberts,  Alex Scott-Samuel, Alison Scouller, Rene Smit, Judith Varley, Vivien Walsh, Neil Nerva, Doug Naysmith, Jean Hardiman Smith

In attendance: Martin Rathfelder,  Adrian Heald

Apologies: Steve Bedser, Dr Peter Mayer, Dr Brian Gibbons, David Mattocks, Fiona Twycross, Guy Collis, Tony Beddow, Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe, David Taylor-Gooby, Mike Grady, Lawrence Cotter, Brian Fisher

  1. Minutes of the meeting 17th June 2017 were agreed
  2. Matters arising:

Campaigns in marginal constituencies: There was a general consensus around acquiring a list of marginals to examine setting up campaigns/supporting organisations like HCT and KONP in these areas. They had been very successful campaigning for the NHS in marginal seats.

  1. Reports:
  1. Chair  Alex Scott- Samuel reported that our membership is increasing, and that at Conference we are looking forward to health having a higher profile. He was confident the SHA motion on the NHS will be well placed. Alex is presenting the motion to conference, seconded by Professor Sue Richards.
  2. Secretary   Jean Hardiman Smith reported on the success of the SHA Women in submitting statements on policy for the NPF policy commissions. Our statements will be considered as part of their work on future policy documents. We were only allocated 100 words per topic area, and inputted on both Health and Social Care. Our statements can be seen at the back of the Women’s Conference guide. We intend to build on this work to support policies for women’s issues. Next steps: Disabled, BAME and LGBT topic areas and contacts must be built up for the SHA. It was formally proposed and seconded that the SHA support the Save Liverpool Women’s Hospital, to include both services and the site. Martin R to formally convey our decision.
  3. Director Martin Rathfelder

Recruitment material: We have almost exhausted our stock of T-Shirts and they are difficult to carry to events. Should we consider smaller recruitment materials, for example iron on logos, wrist bands, badges, ties, pens etc? Our leaflets need updating and a new strap line considered to market the SHA for a new era. Martin advised that our banner is taken to events including to HCT meetings. We have a banner and 4 flags.

Banking: The banking signatories have been changed and all is proceeding smoothly now.

We were told we could send delegates to the Women’s Conference, and then told there was no room.  We are sending a delegate – James Gill – to the Youth conference.  We thought we could send only one delegate to a CLP, but it would appear the rules say we can send 5, as can all Socialist Societies. A delegate has to be accepted 60 days before they can vote, to include paying, currently £6.00. Alex suggested involving regional office.

The Campaign to Save Labour has disbanded and donated £1,000.00 to us.

4. Reports: 

David Davies reported for Wales on the sharing of patient information. He advised us that if you have given your consent in Wales then records can be widely accessed, and that pharmacists will also be able to see it.

Vivien Giladi reported for Health Campaigns Together that HCT goes from strength to strength, and is a very strong national organisation. She emphasised the national Conference on the 4th November at Hammersmith Town Hall, hoping we will all attend as it will be inspirational. HCT is good at campaigning and strong on policy, and KONP groups are gathering empirical evidence.

5. Policy proposals;

Alex S-S (chair) advised that Brian Fisher (Vice President) has had to give his apologies. All 8 Policy Papers can be seen on the SHA website and Martin R has both 2 and 4-page versions for use during the Conference.

Central Council formally thanked Brian for his contribution.

At present we are at the stage where we have a “Green Paper” summarising the stage of our deliberations. After a long discussion no decisions were reached, though the “Green Paper “seemed an acceptable descriptive umbrella until decisions were made. It was clarified that the AGM could overturn any decision by Central Council.

6: Future events

Summit/meeting on children’s mental health at the House of Commons – a feasibility study by the Secretary to report to CC. (Jean H-Smith (Hon Sec); Judith Varley; Sina Lari; Tom Fitzgerald; (Treasurer); Irene Leonard)

Public Health: Conference 23rd November 2017.  Public Health Priorities for Government. There was a discussion on potential charges, and it was agreed further discussion was needed, and as soon as charges were agreed that we would advertise;

Accountable Care Systems Conference 25th November in Manchester

There was a long discussion on these organisations. It was agreed that the SHA should support councils to object. The Tories version is not what we want.

7: Labour Party matters;

Chair: It is the Labour Party Conference tomorrow, and our motion is going forward for debate. 10 other CLPs submitted, and if high enough in the priorities it will go to the Compositing meeting on Sunday evening. The chair also mentioned a number of marches and rallies, campaigns and our fringes. Our rule change had gone to the NEC, but they recommended remission. Alison Scouller (Vice chair) added that they are looking at a whole package of reforms. There will be a commission/enquiry into Labour Party democracy, and we took this into account in agreeing remission.

Socialist Societies cannot send anyone to regional conferences without paying the usual several hundred pounds fees. We are not like Trade Unions with good funding.  We could raise this issue with the commission.

Next meeting 18th November  Chester Quaker Meeting House

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