Annual report 2014

Internal governance

The most significant event for the Association in 2014 was the formulation of the Labour Party’s health policy and its agreement at Party Conference.  This was the culmination of four years’ work in the National Policy Forum and it’s a mark of how much the Labour Party has changed that the policies were agreed both at the NPF residential weekend and at conference without a vote or significant controversy.  Of course the lack of excitement produced an unwelcome side effect – the policies attracted no media attention whatsoever.

2014 was the first year in which the effects of the 2012 Health and Social Care Act became apparent in the English NHS.  Some said the the Act had abolished the NHS already. As it transpired the new Secretary of State appeared less enthusiastic about the principles of competition and privatisation. In fact he never mentioned them.

The approaching General Election overshadowed our political work.  We were very pleased to see a number of our members selected in winnable constituencies – and some others in less winnable ones.  As the year progressed it became clear that no political party was prepared to defend the idea of privatisation of health services in public. The NHS became, rather surprisingly, a central issue in the Scottish referendum.  However the level of debate about the real issues facing the NHS was poor and discussion about health and health inequalities was even worse. Demonisation of the poor and disadvantaged was widespread.  There were, however, some interesting dramatic and fictional representations of debates about the NHS.

Our public seminars were no longer financially viable, but we organised some useful discussions between Foundation Trust Chairs and other private meetings of members.  Our branches in London and the North East were revived, and they and the existing branches in Scotland, Wales and the North East organised some excellent events.  There was much more Trades Union activity around the NHS and we were particularly involved in supporting the People’s March from Jarrow  to London during the Summer.  Our fringe meetings at Labour Party conference were so popular that people were turned away at the door because of the fire regulations.

Internal affairs

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Membership of the Association continued to be quite stable.  Our website and social media presence continued to expand.  We now make very little use of paper media.

Our financial situation became a bit difficult, largely because of increased activity by members, fewer of whom were in a position to subsidise the work of the Association by not claiming their expenses.

The Director was involved in support to the Labour Party Disabled Members Group and in discussions with the Socialist Education Association on issues of mutual interest.