Socialist Health Association
SHA Scotland Health Principles
The Socialist Health Association Scotland is a socialist organisation affiliated to the Scottish Labour Party. This paper sets out the principles that underpin our approach to health policy in Scotland.
· SHA Scotland is committed to a broad public health approach to health policy. Medical treatment and other therapeutic approaches will not, on their own, radically improve health in Scotland. There are unacceptable health inequalities in Scotland that must be addressed if we are to tackle the nation’s major health problems.
· SHA Scotland campaigned for devolution and welcomes the fact that health policy is devolved to the Scottish Parliament. Whilst we retain an international outlook we believe that devolution allows us to develop Scottish solutions to Scottish problems.
· The fundamental principle of the NHS in Scotland (NHSiS) should be that treatment is provided according to need and is free at the time of delivery. Charging has no role to play in the funding of the NHSiS. Whilst we accept that not every possible treatment or service can or should be provided by the NHSiS, any decision to provide or refuse a treatment should be based on need not ability to pay.
· SHA Scotland supports an extension of democratic accountability at all levels. This is more than simply electing representatives, important though that is, to public bodies. It means encouraging full participation in decisions with a statutory duty to involve users, staff and the community. It also requires genuine freedom of information, effective communication and transparency of all contracts and partnerships.
· The patient and other users of health care should be the focus of the service. Not as ‘customers’ but as partners, concerned about the quality and timing of their care. Partners with rights and responsibilities towards their health, to be treated with dignity and respect, having a real say in decisions and getting clear feedback at every stage in their treatment.
· Health and social care are essential public services and should be provided by directly employed staff committed to a public service ethos that includes selflessness, integrity, objectivity, openness, accountability, competence and equality. Privatisation through Public Private Partnerships and other market-based mechanisms has no place in a modern health care system.
· Collaboration between health and social care will be essential to deliver an effective and seamless service. SHA Scotland supports the development of public service networks. In a changing environment networks are a more rapid and effective method of responding to change than constant boundary reviews and statutory reorganisation. We support the planned abolition of NHS Trusts as they are a remnant of the failed internal market and hamper the development of a culture of collaboration across public service boundaries.
· SHA Scotland recognises that high quality health care requires the recruitment and retention of high quality staff. This requires genuine partnership working with health trade unions at all levels, training and development, together with fair pay and conditions for all members of the health care team. We also believe that all health service staff should be salaried and wholly committed to public service and the ethos described above.
· High quality health care requires the capacity to deliver an effective service. This means a sustained commitment of resources to rebuild the damage inflicted by the years of Tory rule. Building service capacity will also allow the development of innovative services to meet the needs of users.
· SHA Scotland welcomes diversity and campaigns for equal access to health care irrespective of race, gender, sexuality, disability, age or creed.
· Our public health approach means that we will support the development of decent housing, education, protection of the environment, food policy and health promotion.
· Our commitment to greater democratic accountability includes strengthening the internal democracy of the Scottish Labour Party.
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