Northern health campaigns conference discusses the fightback

Around 150 delegates crowded into the first and very successful Health Campaigns Together northern conference held in Leeds on 20 January. Almost 30 active campaign groups were represented from Leicester to Liverpool and Newcastle.

Mike Forster, Health Campaigns Together vice chair (personal capacity)

Instead of numerous platform speakers, we invited each region to share their campaign stories. Around 15 people spoke including Socialist Party members from Cumbria, Newcastle, Leicester and Mansfield. The conference was especially inspired by reports of victories at Glenfield Children’s Heart Centre and Chatsworth.

The afternoon was given over to workshops but was first addressed by our guest speaker from Northern Ireland, Pat Lawlor, speaking on behalf of public sector trade union Nipsa. Pat lifted the conference with his report of highly successful community and union pressure to stave off Belfast health cuts.

Workshops reflected the huge scope of health campaigners’ work from the workplace, legal challenges to building campaigns.

The conference was rounded off with a call to support the 3 February day of protest with local actions outside hospitals in at least 20 areas, as well as the London demo. Plans are now underway to support the 12 May TUC demo and the 70th anniversary NHS rally in July.

We plan to hold annual conferences in the north to broaden and organise campaign groups across all our regions.

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