NHA Party Membership Newsletter
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Dear Supporter

I hope that you will take the time to read our Annual Report (click here). It illustrates some of the significant activities the NHA has been involved in during 2016. We have stood in one by-election, supported an independent candidate in another, gained two local councillors, and said goodbye to our co-leader and party founder, Dr Clive Peedell. 

Our report also marks out the challenges to the NHS, whether it be the sale of property, the down-skilling of staff, or the closing of hospital departments. This has been a year where the attacks on the NHS have accelerated, political parties have been rife with infighting, and Westminster has done its best to distract us from the robbery of our public services that is in progress.

Since we first warned about the threat to the NHS from devolution we have encouraged our members to stand for us in local council elections. This is already proving to be a significant battleground in the protection of the NHS. Councils may be tempted by the large slices of the NHS budget they will acquire, but their scrutiny committees have an opportunity to delay the process and hold the architects of the dismantling to account. As we have seen from the reaction across the country to the publication of the Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs), there may be real resistance to the conditions attached to those budgets.

May 2017 is the next round of local elections and we are determined to get more voices - your voices - on to local councils. We need you to take a clear and unequivocal stand against privatisation and in favour of public service. If you would like to represent the party and its values then we want to hear from you. Your actions in the local elections can give support and encouragement to the growing resistance against the STPs.

I wish to apologise a final time for the confusion over the AGM and then draw a line under it. We will start the new year with lessons learned. Although we are a small party we try to hold ourselves to the highest standards. I feel we fell short over the late cancellation of the AGM on 5 November. However, I am pleased to report that the online AGM for full voting members on 17 December was a modest success in guiding our 
decision-making and discussions more accessible to our members - a trend we would like to continue.

We started 2016 with a campaign against Norman Lamb's private member's Bill (Liberal Democrat MP) for a Royal Commission on the NHS. It looks as though we will be starting 2017 with a campaign to inform Jonathan Ashworth, Shadow Secretary of State for Health, that the NHS is a political matter. Ashworth is calling for an Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR) style independent body, which he says would help ensure the NHS receives proper funding and avoid political rows.

The argument about de-politicising the NHS is an attractive one to many people. However, it is the same argument that created NHS England, whose independence is a convenient fiction used by the government to sidestep its responsibilities to the public.

We need politicians with the political will to guarantee our NHS. It is one of the single largest responsibilities they have, and right now they are very thin on the ground. NHA's Cllr Mark Jarnell hits the nail on the head when he says that we have to do our best to get NHA representatives elected, whilst also ensuring that the NHA plays a significant role in changing the political debate on public service. It is the Chancellor of the Exchequer who makes funding decisions, not independent bodies. It is the government which decides to privatise our services, not unelected QUANGOs. Politicians need to step up and we must hold them accountable.

Stay with us, fight with us, stand for us in 2017.

With thanks and best wishes

Dr Alex Ashman

National Health Action Party co-leader
We were pleased to read Warwickshire County Council's rejection of its Footprint's Sustainability and Transformation Plan included specific reference to the need to re-write all documents in plain English. In the NHA's submission to the Lords' committee on the long term sustainability of the NHS we said there is a need to address issues arising from the use of language which we believe forms a barrier to public understanding of what is happening and consequently a barrier to meaningful consultation. When people know, they fight back. 
We held our AGM 2016 online for full members. We will shortly be announcing our new year conference which will be open to all levels of membership. We hope to see lots of you there. The venue and date will be announced shortly.
5 Things You Need to Know about STPs
NHA will be taking part in the National Demonstration for our NHS. We will support and help organise local action on the day for those who can't make it to London.
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National Health Action Party,  PO Box 152, Liskeard, PL14 9DF

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