I think there are 4 main areas of work at present:

The Health Bill

There is still very widespread opposition throughout the NHS.  Our role in the campaign has mostly been to try to put clinicians and campaigners in touch with each other.  We have between us addressed at least 45 Labour Party and campaign meetings so far (probably more, I don’t get told about all of them).  Harry is producing a weekly digest of news which is circulated to our members.  We  regularly circulate material to Labour councillors and campaigners.  The Party has relied largely on TULO for direct campaigning.  The capacity of the Party as such to conduct campaigns other than around elections in most areas is limited.

Our main contributions to the campaign so far have been:

Putting clinicians in touch with campaigners

Support to the Front Bench and the Lords

Encouraging Labour Party activity

Channelling campaigners enthusiasm into productive activity

Commissioning and distributing cartoons

Reorganising our website collecting campaign materials and making them available

Several members have been writing and  blogging furiously and productively, undermining Lansley’s case for his reforms

 

Over the next few months we have plans to

Offer more support to the Lords team

Help to focus campaigns on places where the government is sensitive to pressure

Raise our profile in the Party at Conference (our cartoons are going to appear on conference TV and we have ordered a load of campaign Tee shirts)

Produce more material explaining the likely effect of the Bill on individual patient groups, ideally featuring individual patients

We are involved in a co-ordinated publicity campaign with all the main NHS unions and the campaigns

The NHS

The ongoing management of the NHS is becoming a political problem.  Lansley has been deferring difficult decisions such as the reconfiguration of hospitals.  Even the private sector franchise of Hitchinbrook Hospital has been deferred for more than a year.   A number of hospitals are clearly in acute financial difficulty and will be bailed out.  That is what we call now “uncompetitive behaviour”, or in legal terms, “State Aid”.  Hospital closures and reconfigurations, NHS pay  and rationing of treatment are all going to become prominent political issues and we need to sort out what we can say about them quite urgently.

Public Health

The effect of government policies on the poor and particularly on families with young children are now becoming more obvious and attracting political attention. But not much.  We should be doing more to attract attention to the health consequences of the increase in unemployment and the  Government’s policies on benefits, housing and childcare, and their failure to make progress on alcohol, food and exercise.

Councillors are interested in the transfer of public health responsibilities and also in the proposed Health and Well-being Boards.  We are running some training sessions for them, though it is early days, as it is still unclear how the new setup would work

Future Labour Party policy

The Party is beginning to inch towards thinking about future policy development.  We are working with Joe Farrington-Douglas one some small private seminars with the Front Bench and at the same time on some larger public events. The first two are planned to address the financial situation of the NHS and the problems of integrating services.  Paul Corrigan has also agreed to speak at a meeting about hospitals.   It probably won’t be until the Health Bill is put to bed that we will make much progress in this area, because campaigning takes up so much of the time and attention of our shadow ministers, but the Health Policy Commission is beginning to make a bit of progress.

What do you think?

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