The Socialist Health Association (SHA, called the Socialist Medical Association before May 1981) is a socialist medical association based in the United Kingdom. It is affiliated to the Labour Party as a socialist society.
The Socialist Medical Association was founded in 1930 to campaign from within the Labour Party for a National Health Service in the United Kingdom and absorbed many of those who had been active in the State Medical Service Association, which collapsed as a result. The inaugural meeting was convened by Charles Wortham Brook, a doctor with links to the Labour Party who was a member of the London County Council (LCC) during the period when the LCC developed its municipal hospitals. Brook was the first Secretary of the Association, remaining in office until 1938.
Somerville Hastings was founder President of the Socialist Medical Association (SMA) 1930-51. He served in the Royal Army Medical Corps during the First World War, followed by work as an aural surgeon at the Middlesex Hospital. He was a Member of the London County Council for fourteen years.
In 1945 there were nine members of the association in the House of Commons. They hoped to influence the plans for the development of the National Health Service (NHS). The Association had held a Health Workers’ Convention at Conway Hall, London in 1943, which was attended by health workers and union representatives. A further event, also at Conway Hall Ethical Society, took place in 1946, delivering 14 lectures and an exhibition as part of a Health Services Week. There were communications with Aneurin Bevan but his relations with the group were not particularly close. The Association was keen to press for doctors to be salaried and work full-time in health centres. They wanted teaching hospitals to be integrated into the regional hospital organisations and criticised the segmentation of the service as a barrier to integrated services. The first anniversary of the NHS was celebrated by the Association with a meeting of 300 attendees at Conway Hall Ethical Society.
The association was active in campaigns against NHS charges, smoking and tuberculosis, and for adequate nutrition, the establishment of health centres and salaried general practitioners. It is associated with the campaigns against health inequality.
Alex Scott-Samuel, a public health physician and retired lecturer in public health at the University of Liverpool, was elected Chair in 2017 and held the position until 2020. On behalf of the Association he proposed a resolution at the 2017 Labour Party Conference confirming Labour's opposition to Conservative policies for the NHS in England and calling for the reinstatement of the NHS "as per the NHS Bill (2016-17)". It was carried unanimously. In 2020, Brian Fisher, a GP, was elected Chair.
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An excellent motion was passed including a robust call for a defence of the NHS in England now and a move to reinstate it 'as per the NHS Bill (2016-17)'. Alex Scott-Samuel of the Socialist Health Association and Doctors For The NHS proposed 'Composite 8: The NHS' very movingly and the motion was seconded by Sue Richards of Islington CLP. Both are members of Keep Our NHS Public. The motion was carried unanimously.
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