2023 end of year SHA Officers’ report

Warmest greetings to all members from Mark, Judith and Esther, the officers of the SHA. None of the impressive list of achievements below would have been possible without you – thanks so much for your selfless dedication.

To remind those of you new to the organisation, the Socialist Health Association is an independent organisation affiliated to Labour like the other 20 ‘Socialist Societies’. Together, socialist societies elect a representative to Labour’s National Executive Committee who should answer to us. We are able to put motions to Labour Conference which should be fairly selected for debate and we have delegates to Constituency Labour Parties and regional bodies who should be able to contribute to the selection of socialist candidates for public office.

Our politics are and have been clear: we have called for a commitment to reverse the Tory marketisation and privatisation of health at Labour Conference, at demonstrations and at the NHS 75 events this year. We have called for an end to the deselection of socialist MPs and a return of rights to members in selecting candidates.

We are and remain a socialist society … and not just in name.

The SHA has, apart from some brief periods, been a radical voice on the left of the party and labour movement. We believe the NHS should be a rationally planned, accountable, public service provided by workers employed and fairly paid by the NHS. Its beneficiaries must be the population it serves (including those without official documents). Our view of the NHS is not rose tinted. We know that the prejudices of our society are reflected in the NHS, that systems of accountability are grossly inadequate. Ending these wrongs must be a high priority.

We also believe that the formation of a public and accountable National Care Service is essential in itself and to allow the NHS to work effectively. Lesley Spillard, one of our vice chairs has led this work.

We appreciate that health is not simply about hospitals and doctors and nurses … We understand that a sick capitalist society with appalling housing, grossly exploitative labour relations and a crumbling welfare state produces sick communities who get ill and die young. Empowering people through unions, local councils and committed socialist parliamentarians is key.

In October the Telegraph newspaper called for our affiliation to Labour to be suspended because of our support for striking workers. We maintain our position. We will be on the picket lines again and will speak up in support of striking workers. We consider ourselves to be integral part of the labour movement. Members wanting campaign / recruitment material should contact us at admin@sochealth.co.uk

At Labour Conference our motion insisting on the reinstatement of the NHS (which had been passed unanimously last year) was sidelined. With the help of principled union allies and socialists in CLPs we fought this and we won initially. However in order to prevail with a largely tokenistic NHS motion Labour’s National Executive stepped in to over-rule conference arrangements. This was an unprecedented step which shows the political and financial stakes involved in challenging the corporate capture of NHS commissioning. Harry Stratton, our former secretary, played an important role in this work.

The SHA is absolutely opposed to the idea that the current crisis in healthcare can be resolved by turning to those corporate interests which have helped to destabilise and severely undermine the NHS.  

Socialist Health Association

We have used the 75th anniversary of the foundation of the NHS to get this message across – huge thanks to the following MPs and union leaders and campaigners for their support at these events around the country. Richard Burgon MP, Ian Byrne MP, Mary Foy MP, Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP and Zarah Sultana MP. And Helen O’Connor (GMB), Alex Gordon (RMT), Coral Jones (Doctors in Unite), Riccardo la Torre (FBU) and many key allies from the SOS NHS campaign coalition. Huge thanks to our vice-chair team, branches and active members for making sure these events were effectively publicised and took place. And many thanks to our dedicated team of workers who backed us sometimes for no or very modest pay to deliver huge improvements to our website and social media output. Many thanks to Vivien Walsh, another vice-chair for ensuring our members voices can be heard through our website blogs. We are proud to announce two new branches in Plymouth and Cumbria.

The SHA has been internationalist since our beginning in 1930 when we worked with the TUC to send volunteer health workers to field hospitals in Spain to support those fighting fascism. Rathi Guhadasan, our newest vice-chair, has led a remarkable revival in this work.  Today our Central Council supports an immediate ceasefire in Gaza; we strongly urge all members to participate in the mass movement demanding a ceasefire – this slaughter can not be permitted to continue. We congratulate what is sadly still a minority of MPs and councillors on their principled stand. Special thanks to John Griffiths MS (who reported on the majority support for an immediate ceasfire in the Welsh Senedd), Professor Nick Maynard, Omar Abdel-Mannan and Mish Rahman for their help in this work.

Please would you renew your membership using the link below and encourage others to join the Socialist Health Association. To promote our politics we need to build our membership and influence.https://sochealth.co.uk/join/ £10 a year for those on low income and £25 a year for the full rate.

We wish you and all those who have given the SHA so much support in the last year a very happy new year.

Mark, Judith & Esther.