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Socialist Health Association: Meeting in Pimlico Library today, 19 January 2013

It was nice to see many good friends, and of course my Twitter buddies, as outlined below.

We discussed the following issues within the space of a few hours. The meeting was chaired by Dr Brian Fisher, Chair of the Socialist Health Association, and Martin Rathfelder, Director of the Socialist Health Association.

Dr Brian Fisher had laid out the parameters of our organisation within the meeting:

In fact, much of our discussion was focused on how we should use our website for maximum effect within our organisations, and dangers of Twitter as being used being in a way which conveyed accurately the shared values and ethos of the Socialist Health Association (@SocialistHealth, website).

I am a lay member of SHA, though this is an independent unofficial record of my notes about the open meeting for all members of the SHA.


SHA Website

There are currently around 800 pages on the website. The most popular part is the ‘Black Report’, and the documents on it. It is assumed that this is very popular because health inequalities.

Criticisms of how the website fails to describe how the SocialistHealth is constituted: e.g. who we are, how we are funded. On a good day, the website gets over 2000 hits. Front pages and interactivity have helped to boost our traffic significantly. Traffic has arisen markedly since July 2012. There have been problems with Facebook integration. There is a spam filter to take out spam comments.

Naomi Fabry then asked to explain how the website has developed. There are two main issues: visual and content editing. Those aspects are interlinked, in that design can help with the editing. Naomi suggested a question, what will it to have achieved. I considered the following:

  • Raised the profile of SHA: Engage people with the SHA and the Labour health policy, seen as part of a wider network (LFF, Twitter).
  • Website to provide a platform for informal discussion about topics, and produce specialist discussion papers. Terms and conditions. a problem is including young people. Information about meetings.
  • Engage people with reforms Health and Social Care Act: particularly consider key national policy issues, particularly in public health, health inequalities, health protection, health resource, patient safety, commissioning.

‘we are a critical friend of the Labour Party and, we are affiliated to the Labour Party’ Chair, Brian Fisher of ?@SocialistHealth ?#SHA2013

‘we do need to find a way of enabling debate, otherwise we will become a dinosaur’ ?#SHA2013

Physicians for a National Health Program

Adverts have to state clearly that they are adverts. There is an aim to have more adverts. The Socialist Health Association does not “endorse” any particular links.

Figures for 2012:


Website policy and practice: Given recent concerns, how can the Director best promote the SHA? Do we need a protocol?  In what will be a “challenging year” (s) for the party, including its affiliates and the NHS,  how  can we best manage ALL our communications, (website, social media, meetings, conferences strategies and resources), particularly when both the NHS /Health & Labour will be under even greater attack,maintain credibility, and avoid foreseeable problems in 2015.

This was a wide-ranging discussion about how best to introduce ourselves on the social media, including Twitter. There had been problems with how the Socialist Health Association appeared to be discussing certain elements of national policy, such as competition and closure of hospitals. I brought up the timing of some discussions, e.g. Sean Worth re: competition, on our website was inappropriate, given the other pro-competition articles in the national media. I anticipated the same problem for how the Socialist Health Association was to be perceived over Lewisham.

Defending the NHS programme of events GMB, Equality Trust, Macmillan

The constitution of “Healthwatch” was discussed. There is support through lay leader and training to consider this programme.


Developments in the NHS – what do we expect will happen over the next year:

Health policy under the coalition government A mid-term assessment

Mid-Staffs and quality


This may turn out to be a huge attack on the Labour Party ideology and ethos; and used by some to advance an agenda for privatising the NHS. It was noted in terms of media management that the decision over Lewisham may exactly coincide with the publication of the Francis Report regarding Mid Staffs.

  • CCGs and tendering
  • Private income in Foundation Trusts
  • The Failure Regime
  • Public and Patient Involvment, Healthwatch
  • Any Qualified Provider
  • Social Enterprises
  • Freedom of Information
  • Public Health
  • Labour Party policy discussions
  • Children, Food and Obesity

Health and care policy review:Whole-Person Care

Social Enterprises

Economic growth and inequality

Local Government Conference 9 – 10 Feb in Nottingham

Next meeting: AGM Saturday 9th March, Hackney


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