Category Archives: Socialist Health Association

I can’t recommend this film – which focuses mainly on older political activists campaigning for the NHS – too highly.
(Statement of competing interests: I feature briefly in the film)

Pensioners United

Directors: Phil Maxwell, Hazuan Hashim

Country: UK

Running Time: 75′

Year: 2018

A potent account of a passionate group of pensioners who unite together to fight for a better life for themselves and those who will follow them. Starring Jeremy Corbyn, Harry Leslie Smith, the late Tony Benn, and thousands of inspirational pensioners from across the UK.
~ Allyson Pollock

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You may find this video of a meeting held in Birkenhead Town Hall on September 27 of interest. The meeting set the current situation in Wirral, of an accountable care system at a fairly advanced stage, in its national context.

The meeting began with a short contribution from a local GP, Dr Mantgani, who has in the past worked closely with Virgin; he expressed his concerns regarding the threatened closure of five walk in centres.

I then spoke – about 12 minutes into the video – about the historical and current context of NHS cuts, rationing and privatisation.

After a very interesting Q and A, there was a contribution, starting 56 minutes in, from Yvonne Nolan, a former director of social services in Manchester who now lives in Wirral. Yvonne described her work in Manchester, which in effect involved a long period setting up the de facto accountable care organisation which now operates across Greater Manchester. She related this to the current situation in Wirral.

This was followed by further questions and comments; all in all, a fascinating session

https://www.facebook.com/groups/defendournhs

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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 everyone who couldn’t make the Conference, here is Jessica’s speech to our Fringe meeting on the future of Women’s health that I referred to earlier in a members email.

Jean Hardiman Smith

 

Thank you for inviting me to speak to you today. My name is Jessica Ormerod. I run a research and information organisation called Public Matters with my lovely friend and colleague Deborah Harrington.
Although we write about all aspects of the NHS and other public services, I have a particular interest in maternity. I have been writing about maternity issues for seven years since I was the chair of the maternity services liaison committee for Lewisham Hospital which coincided with our fight to save our maternity services. We won that fight but we have by no means won the war because as you know maternity services up and down the country are being closed and downgraded.
But before anything else I want to paint the picture of what is happening to the NHS as a whole. Because every closed maternity ward, service or reduction in staff is the direct result of changes to the NHS that have been happening since the 2012 Health and Social Care Act. These changes are having a devastating impact on access to care. It is no exaggeration to say that we are witnessing the reversal of 70 years of universal, comprehensive and equitable care.
The 2012 Health and Social Care Act put into place all the major elements for a step change in the privatisation of the NHS.

A QUANGO called NHS England was formed as the Commissioner-in-Chief of the service, with over 200 subordinate local commissioning units. These commissioning units broke with the tradition of planning services, replacing it with buying in from public, private and voluntary sector providers. Areas of work are subdivided into contractable units and NHS public providers are obliged to compete. The loss of a contract means loss of income, which has a knock-on effect on the viability of the public sector, which is left with high cost acute care and a reduced income.

In 2014 a new CEO was appointed to run the NHS in England. He created a new plan for the NHS, the Five Year Forward View and this was greeted by the establishment as a welcome antidote to what was seen as the fragmented mess left by the 2012 Act (this was only a mere 18 months on from it being enacted). But it’s important to recognize that far from being an accident, the Act achieved the fragmentation necessary for privatisation to be embedded at an organisational level, including many major health industry players taking key roles in the commissioning and policy-making process.

At the heart of NHS England’s Five Year Forward View is the idea that the NHS in England will never again be funded to a level that maintains its services in the way they are run now. It puts together a series of proposals for change which are not just cuts but are about a fundamental reshaping of how services are provided. Expensive specialist and emergency care are relocated to centralised hubs and more care is to be delivered in the community via partnerships with local authorities. There is an aspiration for fewer emergency admissions with an improvement to overall health which it argues will lead to less dependency on NHS services.

We could say the scope of this aspiration is far reaching or we could say it is pie in the sky. It not only assumes the NHS can cope with a growing population without corresponding growth in services but that it will do so with a reduced service with much of the change becoming the responsibility of local authorities.

The process of transforming the NHS in England, is based on close co-operation between successive politicians and Department of Health managers over many years with the US Health Maintenance Organisation or Accountable Care Organization principles of managed care. This process is continuing without any checks and balances of substance within the formal organisational structures of government. Politicians go to great lengths to deny both privatisation and US influence on the current changes.

There is, however, a groundswell of resistance to the damage being done to the NHS and there is a lot of knowledge surrounding individual service contractions and closures, but little in the public domain about the overall programme of change. And that is what I am here to talk about today.

The National Maternity Review, aka Better Births – A Five Year Forward View for Maternity Care, is one of the Five Year Forward View’s New Models of Care. It emphasises community care delivered through local hubs with a theoretical reduced demand on hospital services. It recommends an increase in independent sector providers and introduces Personal Care Maternity Budgets. Personal Care Budgets commoditise and monetise the system. They add layers of unnecessary complication, increase expense, fragment accountability and lead to an accounting nightmare.
44 Local Maternity Systems have been established. The systems have been introduced without consultation, peer review, pilot studies or effective oversight from public health or parliamentary scrutiny. They are small-scale Integrated Care Systems. Unlike the Integrated Care Organisations which are now under consultation, they have been put into place with very little fanfare or institutional opposition.
As with all the changes to the NHS currently taking place, there is a real problem that rhetoric about better care closer to home is not matched by real resources or access to physical structures like hospitals. NHS England consistently refers to services being more important than organisations but fail to fill in the blanks about how this works. They also insist that travelling in order to receive excellent care is not a concern to patients. There is no acknowledgment that time, expense and severity of health condition all very much effect the distance people are able to travel regardless of the excellence of the service at the end of the journey.
In the case of maternity, these questions of distance and the emphasis on community care run two different risks. The first being the potential for increase of emergencies outside hospital setting. The second is that mothers might be taken in to hospital for assisted birth or caesarean in order to pre-empt risk arising.
But what makes maternity different from other services?
Most people use health services most at the beginning and end of their lives. Pregnant women are the exception to this. During pregnancy women come into more contact with the NHS than they probably have ever done in their lives. This is particularly the case if they have a complicated pregnancy or birth. Healthy women can become profoundly unwell during pregnancy and they can be vulnerable to life-threatening complications during birth. That’s why it is so important that women have all levels of care within easy access.
Until now maternity services have been provided in the most part by the NHS. Women have always been free to employ a private midwife. But the NHS has a duty to provide a midwife at every birth even if a private midwife is also in attendance.
Maternity services are woven through the traditional structure of the NHS. Women see their midwife at home or at their local GP. They receive a minimum of two scans to check the baby’s progress and health at the local hospital. If they have a pre-existing condition or they develop a pregnancy-related illness then their specialist will work alongside the maternity team to ensure that the woman and baby are safe and as healthy as possible throughout the pregnancy.
Currently women can give birth at home, in a ‘stand-alone’ facility run by midwives, ‘co-located midwifery unit’ – that’s a midwife-run facility on hospital grounds, or in an obstetric unit which includes doctors and surgical theatre. Obstetric units can only be sited in hospitals with A&E because they require acute services which is blood, air and surgeons. A woman can become dangerously ill very quickly during birth so timely access to acute care is essential.
Put this into the context that since 2010 maternity services have been starved of funds and there has been a staff recruitment and retention crisis. Many maternity units have already been downgraded or closed, hundreds of GP practices have also closed so women already travel further to receive care. This means it costs more and takes more time to see a midwife, GP or hospital doctor. It also means longer emergency transfer times. The risk is this will only get worse once the STPs restructuring of the NHS is complete.
Who is driving the changes to maternity?
Surprise, surprise, Better Births panel includes private health providers and those private companies are working with government to re-write policy.
Although most current providers are NHS hospitals, private providers are now being strongly encouraged. Local Maternity Systems set their own payment systems. This means that they can choose whether they pay via their geographical population or they can pay per activity or service. However, they do not follow established budget areas; they do not share boundaries with CCGs or Local Authorities even though they rely on budgets from both. Across the country there is now a mish-mash of payment systems. The risk is that women will fall through the gaps.
NHS Trusts have been ‘incentivised’ to adopt Better Births by offering a chance to win ‘pioneer funding’ to speed up the transition to the New Models of Care. In November 2016, Seven ‘early adopter’ sites started to implement the recommendations – I don’t need tell you about this because you’re part of it! The sites were told to be bold and radical. Another incentive is ‘the maternity challenge fund’ which instructs successful trusts ‘to explore innovative ways to use women’s and their partners’ feedback to improve maternity services’. A pioneer site is not the same as a pilot test site.
LMSs are encouraged to work alongside private providers in order to offer women a wider choice. As most women have previously been cared for by the NHS this simply means opening the door to the private sector. In a climate of serious staff shortages, it is possible that some midwives may see the benefit of setting up an independent midwifery practice rather than staying in the NHS. Despite protestations to the contrary, this does actually reduce the ‘NHS offer’ and opens an income stream for public money to be handed over to the private sector.
Better Births tells us it is working on a new accreditation scheme for maternity providers. But in a publicly provided NHS service, this is unnecessary because the NHS trains staff to a professional standard.
Private providers are required to have a contract with the NHS in order to receive payment via a Personal Care Budget. It is claimed that the budgets (which are described as ‘notional’) will demonstrate to CCGs the kinds of choices women make during pregnancy, birth and postnatally. This will apparently encourage CCGs to respond to women by increasing their offer. The claim is that this will also empower women. But it is decidedly unclear about how this can be achieved. The guidance talks about using Personal Care Budgets for birth pools, place of birth settings or breastfeeding support but all of this should be available to every woman regardless of a personal care budget. In fact, all of these used to be available to women as part of the normal care given by the NHS.
Moreover, it precludes the notion that women become ill in pregnancy. No one chooses to get gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, HELLP or any other life-threatening condition. What happens when your health needs change but you’ve used up your £3000 on hypno-birthing? There should be real concern about the potential lack of access to obstetric care when women have serious complications of pregnancy. Or to return to the issue of financial balance, if £3000 is a notional budget for a normal birth which can be used up in a number of ways then the acute hospital will potentially have to pick up the cost of the emergency care without a matching budget.
What does this all mean?
Scale and pace have taken precedence over caution and evidence. Academic research will take years to catch up to establish the public health consequences of this new policy.
This is a top-down reorganisation of a national service with little to no consultation, pilot schemes, peer review, oversight or risk assessment. A Health Select Committee inquiry into the maternity transformation plan was not completed because of the 2017 election. It has not been re-opened.
The Vice-Chair of the maternity transformation programme finishes his report with the following advice to LMSs: Be Bold! Don’t wait for instruction!
Clearly long gone are the years of epidemiological study, of public health planning, of consultation with experts.
Better Births is based on consumer choice issues around personalised maternity care. There is a serious lack of evidence that this restructuring will give women the vital services they need. There are fewer services, obstetric departments are being stretched even further and technology is replacing face-to-face clinical care.

On the other hand, it embeds private care and fee-for-service. And, most importantly of all this is not how a national public service works.

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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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Dear member,

As you may know, Central Council has agreed a way forward for continuing our policy development work. There are four policy areas being explored further and these are:

a) Looking at our extant public health policies to see what significant gaps, if any, should be addressed

b) Looking at the needs of carers

c) Adding to / undertaking a critical analysis of the Labour Party NPF paper on Mental Health issued last year

d) Taking further some current ideas for what a new (integrated and English ) health and care system might look like, he basis of its funding, values and governance etc

If any SHA member wishes to be contribute to the work of any of these four groups, please could they contact Vice Chair (Policy) Tony Beddow tonesue@aol.com, outlining their policy interest, location, and any background in their chosen subject.

Thanks

Tony

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A Healthier Wales?
Cymru Iachach?
Monday October 1st 7pm to 9pm
The new Welsh Government Plan for Health and Social Care What does this mean for us in North Wales?

Come and hear the debate from our expert Panel

Huw Irranca-Davies,
Minister for Children, Older People and Social Care
Donna Hutton
UNISON Cymru Wales Head of Health
Professor Rhiannon Tudor-Edwards
Professor of Health Economics, Bangor University
Dr Matthew Davies
General practitioner, BCUHB Cluster Lead
Chair: Tony Beddow
Secretary, SHA Cymru Wales

Register at
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/a-healthier-wales-cymru-iachach-tickets-49012698300?aff=es2
www.shacymruwales.cymru

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The investigation into the issues raised in the scrutineers’ report is ongoing.  All aspects are being looked at including sight impairment and employee and governance issues.

Jos Bell, the Chair of London Branch raised the issue of disabled members not always being able to attend Central Council or needing support to do so.  The Officers have agreed a “buddy” system where CC members who are disabled and who attend will be the people who will vote, but if they are unable to be present, then a deputy, usually their “buddy” can vote on their branches’ behalf. This is in line with our support for people with disabilities.

I continue to liaise with the various branches, including recently the Scottish branch, and on the 21st April attended the West Midlands AGM as a visitor and speaker.  I should like to thank them for their warm welcome.

Scottish Branch.  I visited Dave Watson in Glasgow, and the officers believe that we could learn a lot from the devolved countries.  Dave has been working directly with the Scottish government, and I found him inspirational.  They have done a great deal of work and the officers feel it would be good to hold a cross nations conference on renationalisation drawing on experience from Wales, Scotland and Ireland.

I have been working with HCT and the NPC, led by Brian Fisher on Care.  Care is exceptionally complex, but its success is crucial the success of the NHS.  Our longer-term plans are still not decided, but we hope to have an update on cooperative working and perhaps a conference or two soon.  Brian and Dame June Clark, are presenting on Care to the NPC Pensioners’ Parliament.

Finally, I attended a day course at the London International development Centre on Healthcare and Critical Realism. It is a full day course, run on a Saturday, and is completely free.  The people running it are leaders in their field.  One of the people attending was Alan Taman, press for HCT, Steve carne was also on the attendee list.  It was useful for networking and inspirational.  There will be at least one other opportunity, so if you would like to know more please email me or phone.  I found it sharpened and focused my thinking, and it reinforces the way we tend to think and work on NHS and care matters.

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

Membership

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

Membership numbers

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

Renationalising the NHS

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

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

Organisation and development

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

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

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

Register of interests

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

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