A new world is in the making and everywhere the democratic for­ces are gaining in the struggle against reaction.  The people of Britain have expressed in no uncertain. terms their views and their wishes for the future, in the magnificent majority they have given to the Labour Party. Nine SMA members have been returned to the House and we send them our very warmest congratulations.

They are:

  • Our President, Mr. Somerville Hastings, FRCS (Barking), whose con­stituents gave him a majority of 18,911;
  • Mr. R. Clitherow, MPS (Edge Hill),
  • Dr. L. Comyns (Silyertown) ;
  • Dr. L. Haden Guest (North Islington);
  • Dr. S.W.Jeger (S.E. St.Pancras) ;
  • Sqdn.Ldr. S. Segal (Preston) ;
  • Dr. Barnet Stross (Hanley);
  • Dr. Edith Summerskill and
  • Dr. Stephen J.L. Taylor (Barnet).

We express our most sincere thanks to the other SMA members who fought so magnificently, reducing in each case the Conservative’s previous majority by thousands, but who were unfortunately not successful; Mrs. Iris Brook, SRN (Newbury); Lt.Col. L.F. Browne (Penrith & Cockermouth)-, Fl/Lt. H.B..O, Cardew (Weston-super-Mare) , Dr. Elizabeth Jacobs (St. Marylebone) and Dr. D. Stark Murray (Richmond ).

All those who took any part in the election will have noticed that everywhere health and the health services roused great and intelligent interest. With so many matters urging their rival claims for priority on our new Government’s attention, the indications are that the health, services at this stage must give way to housing, coal and food. This accords with SMA policy, which has always stressed that a high standard of living is more important for the nation’s health than are the medical services.  We may be certain, however, that a national service for health comes high on the list of priorities.

The latest statement of Labour Party health policy is contained in the resolution at the Blackpool Conference in May this year, pro­posed by our delegate. Dr. D. Stark Murray, and carried unanimously. It reads:-

“The Conference, having welcomed the proposed National Health Service as outlined in the White Paper (presented to and generally approved by Parliament), regrets that the Minister of Health is con­templating radical alterations in the scheme, violating democratic principles and sacrificing the health of the people to the vested interests of the medical profession.

It expresses the view that no scheme is acceptable which does not

  1. accept full public accountability for expenditure from public funds;
  2. give to Local Authorities control over municipal hospitals and medical services on statutory Health Councils, and Committees;
  3. end the National Health Insurance “panel” system with its one standard of service for the poor and another for the rich, and ensure that distribution of doctors is determined by the needs of the population;
  4. give Local Authorities power of initiation and control of Health Centres;
  5. abolish the buying and selling of practices paid for by public funds;
  6. provide for the training of doctors, nurses and other health workers by using the municipal hospitals and by making medical education free to all suitable candidates regardless of sex;
  7. include the National Health Service as part of the comprehensive Social Security Plan.

“The Conference calls upon the Government to implement by legis­lation nothing less than the proposals of the White Paper as a basis for a comprehensive health service”.

SMA members should study this resolution with care and consider its full implications. As it became Labour Party policy before the general election, we are justified in assuming that “nothing less than the White Paper” is now probably a minimal demand.

Members should also study carefully the Labour Party pamphlet “A National Service for Health” (price 2d, post free 3d, obtain­able from the SMA office). We hope, however, that members will not restrict their order to one copy but will obtain several and cir­culate them among their friends and colleagues.

Our Job

What are the functions of the Association, and of each of us as SMA members and members of the Labour Movement, in the new chapter which has opened so encouragingly before us? We have for the first time the support of a majority of the people of this country, and the liberated countries look towards us with new hope. Now at last we can go forward to positive achievements and can build Socialism in Britain. But we must realise that tremendous tasks lie ahead of us and their solution will not be easy. We shall need all the support we can mobilise, and this means continuing education and propaganda – education first of ourselves, not only to understand the health policy we advocate, but also to appraise the political situation in general and in our own area; to do this adequately requires an increased understanding of political theory, We must continue with our work of propaganda among the various sections of the Labour Movement, on which the Association’s main energies have been expended during the past year with such success. Because the election has been won, it does not by any means imply that the electorate which voted us into power understands clearly the pro­gramme for which it voted, nor even that all members of the Labour Movement understand these things. We must therefore continue our propaganda work and in so doing will increase our own understanding.

But our most important field of work is with our professional colleagues and in our professional organisations. We have relatively neglected this work recently, but it is of the utmost importance now, Far-reaching changes in the health services are on the way, and we must win support among health workers for the now policy, so that they will cooperate in the new service to the full, instead of grudgingly, or even trying to sabotage. Our propaganda should be positive, showing how great can be each health worker’s contribution to the country’s welfare, and how much more satisfactory his own conditions will be in a service where he can give his best. That there is a very considerable body of support for our views, even though it is little vocal, is shown for example among the doctors by the BMA questionary, which we should study anew, (BMJ, Aug.5th ’44). Our most important task is to rally and direct this latent, little-expressed support among health workers.

In the course of this work we shall find opportunities to secure new members. It is well worth while always to carry a spare member­ship form. Frequently one meets a health worker whose views are in sympathy with ours, but who has never got around to joining us or who maybe has never, even now, heard of the SMA. Produce a form (and lend him your fountain pen) and you have made a new member.

We should also make much more use of the Press, especially our local papers. Watch for letters on health matters and follow then up with your own. Whether or not the SMA is mentioned is unimportant. What counts is to keep our health policy before the public, for we know from experience how great is the support it will win. See that reports of SMA meetings reach your local paper; editors know their readers are interested in health questions. And why not write articles for local Labour Party and Trade Union bulletins?

The municipal elections are near and it is of vital importance that Labour should secure majorities here also. A reactionary local authority can to a large extent stultify in its area the good effects of Government legislation.

The people of Britain have given the Labour Movement an unparall­eled opportunity. A tremendous responsibility rests on us, indi­vidually and collectively, to ensure that we make the fullest use of it, for the benefit of the people. The slogan of each one of us should be –

It’s Up To Me

August 1945

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