Suggestions for a strategy

It’s clear that campaigning on the NHS did not have the desired effect in the 2015 General Election.  A majority of voters said that the NHS was a very important issue to them, but voters in Conservative areas were clearly not convinced by the arguments put forward which centred around the dangers of privatisation.  We in the SHA were successful in getting most of our policy proposals adopted by the Labour Party, but those proposals were not highlighted in the election campaign, which, as far as the NHS was concerned, centred on policies put forward by both Labour and Conservative parties, which, to an informed audience, lacked credibility.

We now have time to think about the next stage of our work. We need to be in the forefront of developing what we already have to be a credible but radical alternative to what the Tories will be doing.

The core purpose of the SHA remains developing policies, influencing those that can implement these policies ie Labour to which we remain affiliated. There are a number of things we can do to raise our profile and develop coherent radical policies.


As far as practical activity goes, our website is still busy. It’s had more than a million hits. We need to boost its reputation as a place where interesting and useful material about health and politics, both current and historical can be found.  It contains our policies, but it also hosts discussion from other parties, and perhaps we should encourage more contributions from other parties.  Our Twitter feed has nearly 4,500 followers.  How much political impact it has is difficult to say, but it probably helps to raise our profile.

Monitoring developments in health and social care.

It’s clear there is a lot going on. The Vanguard Programme and DevoManc appear to propose to subvert the rules of the regulatory regime. The traditional boundaries between primary and secondary care, and between health and social care are being eroded.  We can monitor developments remotely, but far more effective is a place based approach like the excellent “Winning the Best Community Care for Lewisham” report, which involved a thorough investigation of the reality of service provision in the area.

Policy based seminars. 

These would be meetings to discuss policy perhaps with the shadow health team and others. These could, for instance, include discussions with KONP and the Greens. There is clearly still a place for such events, but they will need external financial support, if only by the provision of a venue.

 Informal discussions:

– over dinner, usually – can be a very effective way of raising our profile. They don’t need to lead to a direct policy input, but they can inform subsequent policy debates both locally and nationally. Local councillors may well have a bigger role than they have had in the past and we can help educate them into the mysteries of the NHS and help them to build up relationships with providers and activists.

 A national and local presence.

We want the SHA to be seen as a place where intelligent, well-informed discussion takes place at a national and local level. We see policy seminars and articles as having a national impact. Local meetings, based initially through branches, could focus on more regional matters, but inform policy development at the same time.


The SHA has not been a grass-roots campaigning organisation for some time. However, we can support others’ campaigns on the ground.