Towards A Socialist Health Service

Socialist Health Association

Socialist Medical Association Edinburgh & South-East Scotland Branch

Conference Report

Lauriston Hall, Edinburgh  Saturday 27th March,1965

The Conference Chairman, Councillor Mrs Nealon welcomed the delegates and introduced the speaker as a former Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Health.  She stressed the need of making some of our permissive legislation statutory.

Mr, Blenkinsop, M.P, for South Shields, discussed the need, now that a Labour Government was in power, for reviewing the whole future development for the National Health Service. There had been much recent concern about the place for general practice within the Health Service. G.P.’s had felt themselves neglected and expressed their feeling of frustration to both Tory and. Labour Governments. The important move on the part of the B.M.A. in urging new conditions of service was the opportunity to negotiate improved conditions of service.

In most other countries the trend towards specialism had been much greater and Britain was unusual in that our general practitioner service was going against the general stream of development.  The Labour Movement has realised that there must be a close relationship between Medicine and Social Welfare.  It is here that the G.P. can play an important part.

The G.P. should have a wide range of interests and have regular links with the Local Health Authority and for all this, Health Centres are essential. These Health Centre’s should be less elaborate than we had at first thought. In Health Centres payment by salary should be especially suitable, and the B.M.A.’s recent charter has given an indication of willingness to discuss a salaried-service along with the other, possible alternatives.

Recruitment of doctors is an urgent problem, a11 branches of the National Health Service are short staffed. The training of doctors needs to be re-evaluated and must include more social medicine and the problems of the elderly.

Hospital Service

Hospital buildings need modernising with the provision of new adaptable buildings whose function can be altered to fit the changing needs of medical care.

Occupational Health

Care of the worker in a comprehensive occupational Health Service is important, and in any Health Centre one member of the team should be trained in these problems. In the field of research we lag behind other countries, and this lack of research facilities may cause some doctors to seek their interests abroad.

There is great need for a new administrative pattern in the National Health Service to join together the general practitioner, hospital and Local Authority Services,

The Conference Resolution was moved by Mrs. McManns representing Section 4 of the Co-operative Guild. In the general discussion which followed some 24 delegates took part and among the points raised was the importance of setting up group practices and Health Centres in small towns and new areas.  Livingston New Town was given as a place where a Health Centre with salaried doctors was urgently needed.

A delegate paid tribute to the work of the S.M.A. and said the whole Trade Union Movement must throw its weight in our fight to get a better share of the National purse for our Health Services. Stress was laid on the need for teaching children at school on health topics. One or two delegates suggested that the money so badly needed to save and further develop the National Health Service could easily be taken from our defence budget.  Other points included a need for geriatric beds, the heed to replace outdated surgeries and hospitals, the need to nationalise the drug industry, the need to ensure that any further money needed by the Health Service did not come from increased taxes that effect primarily the working people.  The need to improve the conditions of work and salary of nurses and all other health workers.

The report on the delegates was given.

Credentials Report

Organisations      Delegates

  • Co-op. Guilds                                   12               28
  • Other Co-op. Organisations          16               28
  • Trades Councils                                4                  5
  • Labour Parties                                 18               32
  • Trade Unions                                   18              28

In all 68 organisations were represented, although 79 had sent for delegates credentials.

After giving the credentials report Dr. Lipetz referred to the S.M.A. Weekend. School to be held in London from the 23rd to 25th April with Kenneth Robinson, the Minister of Health, as one of the tutors.  He expressed the hope that associated, organisations would nominate delegates to this school and also to the S.M.A. Annual Conference in London on 15th and 16th May, at which a full agenda of resolutions on health topics will be discussed.

All newspapers with offices in Edinburgh were invited to send reporters. Reports on the Conference were found only in the Glasgow Herald, and The Daily Mail.