Building a campaign to save the NHS




This is the summary of a meeting between the Socialist Health Association, KONP, Unite and Unison held on 5th April 2012.

This paper is the first step in planning a collaborative campaign to defend the NHS against the damage caused by the Health and Social Care Act. In addition, it outlines the discussion held on policy development for the next decade.

Initially, each organisation summarised current activity and plans. Rapidly a set of tactics within an overall strategy emerged.



  • Protect services and patient safety
  • Ensure that NHS problems lie at the Coalition’s door
  • Protect Public Health
  • Ensure that the population of England understand the threat to the NHS and become angry about the dangers.
  • Keep the NHS on the front pages
  • Encourage clinicians to get angry about the dangers of the Act

Key Issues to rally round

  • Conflicts of interests of GPs
  • Hospital closures
  • Wasting money
  • Safety
  • Private patients

Strategies generally agreed

Monitoring the dangers

  • Work with False Economy to develop a central repository where stories and blogs could be placed.
  • We need to gather non-anonymous patient stories

Funding a campaign

  • Could the Unions help?
  • Could 38 Degrees help?


  • We shall all need to compromise policies to ensure that we maximise collective power
  • Sharing leadership will be needed
  • All for one, one for all
  • We need to see ourselves as part of a jigsaw      OR
  • Swarming – loose coordination, all groups heading in a generally similar direction without central control.

The public

  • Raise awareness – keep the NHS in the news
  • Improve understanding by citizens of the dangers to the NHS posed by the Act.
  • Train activists where possible.
  • Harness patient power
  • Work with patient organisations
  • Social media can only take us so far. Face to face work is still essential – and this is not easy.

Become members of NHS organisations to exert influence

  • Through Foundation Trusts, CCGs, Health and Well-Being Boards, through HealthWatch
  • Health and Well-Being Boards
    • Could be in the front line of opposition
    • Need competent members
    • Value of discord
  • Working with the KONP pledge: this commits a CCG to carry out those aspects of the rhetoric of the Act with which all would agree. For instance, integration, PPI, privatisation held in check. When the dangers become apparent, a CCG committed to the Pledge can more easily mount a fight.
  • Protecting services that will come under threat
  • Making the arguments in the places that matter.
  • We shall need to train people to stand
  • Update TUPE guidance
  • Recruit and support a hardcore of activists

Democratic accountability

  • Work with councillors – holding meetings, for instance, and providing information and education in NHJS issues.
  • Work with MPs
  • Focus on Tory and LibDem areas as much as possible
  • Work with new mayors

Combat privatisation

  • Put pressure on the boards of private companies moving into the NHS
  • Support for professionals and non-professionals in making the case for resisting privatisation and outsourcing


  • Work back from the election in order to place key activities at the right time.


The Doctors’ Party will keep the NHS on the agenda. It will certainly be useful as a pressure group. However, there are risks that it could split local votes and become divisive.

The Pledge is going to the GPC


Professionals may have become very ambivalent about the NHS. They may want to sabotage


Everyone agreed that this is right time to commence. The LP’s policy development process needs to become more effective and engaging.

The SHA and both unions have plans to develop policy, as does the LP itself. By working together, we can cover more ground and learn from each other.

There seemed to be general agreement that meetings across the UK would be held covering key topics. Conclusions from these meetings could be fed into the policy development process. The SHA is in contact with the shadow team to ensure their interest and involvement.

We agreed to share topics and programmes and see if they can be usefully divided between organisations.