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UNISON Gives Government NHS Birthday Wish List

UNISON chief Dave Prentis will urge the Government to pick presents from the union’s wish list for the NHS’ 63rd birthday tomorrow (5 July), or the health service may not be celebrating next year.

Celebrate NHS 63rd BirthdayThe UK’s largest union is warning that, unless the Government takes heed of the wish list, plans set out in the Health and Social Care Bill will lead to the break-up of the NHS. Profits will be put before patients, as private companies are set to gnaw through a huge slice of the birthday cake.

Dave Prentis, UNISON General Secretary, will join other union heads at the Department of Health, at 9.30am, to present giant birthday cards. UNISON regions are also staging a number of events, including giving birthday cards to MPs and organising photo stunts with birthday cakes.

Dave Prentis, UNISON General Secretary, said:

“For the last 63 years hardworking health service staff have saved millions of lives and built it up to be the national treasure it is today. The Government want to tear all this down and turn the NHS into little more than a logo.

“The best present the Government could give is to recognise the good work carried out by doctors, nurses, cleaners and other health staff. By picking the presents laid out in our birthday wish list it could stop the Health and Social Care Bill becoming a recipe for chaos and privatisation.

“Plans set out in the Bill will simply turn the NHS into a business, where more of our taxes will pay for profit-driven companies to provide our healthcare. All of this when satisfaction of the NHS is at an all time high.

“NHS staff, campaigning groups and the public will fight to keep a service that puts patients before profits. We must stop a similar crisis to Southern Cross and make sure that there is a 64th birthday to look forward to.”

UNISON’s NHS birthday wish list:

Keep services in the public domain - the move to a policy of 'Any Qualified Provider’ will see private companies get their claws into services - it will then be impossible to bring them back. New commissioning consortia will outsource to unaccountable companies, while the NHS will be legally blocked from being the ‘preferred provider’ of care.

Retain the cap on private patient income - the existing cap is designed to stop Trusts prioritising more profitable private patients over those in the NHS. As waiting lists continue to grow, NHS patients will be pushed to the back of the queue. The NHS is built on fairness and equity - this policy exemplifies the Government's disdain for its founding principles.

Halt the move to make Monitor an economic regulation - despite claiming to have 'listened' to the barrage of criticism, the government still envisages the regulator Monitor as an NHS version of Ofgem or Ofwat, with the power to enforce competition law and prevent "anti-competitive behaviour". This will move the focus away from scrutinising the quality of care, potentially putting patients in danger.

Keep staff in their jobs - the Government's own figures anticipate 20,000 redundancies across the NHS - patient services are bound to suffer. Redundancy payments alone will cost £1bn, which is a colossal waste of money when the NHS is under huge pressure to make 'efficiency savings' elsewhere.

Strengthen accountability and openness - the Government still plans to put responsibility for the NHS at arm's length from the health secretary, meaning that Parliament will find it harder to hold the NHS to account. Loopholes will allow commissioning consortia and foundation trusts to block the public from full access to their meetings and decision-making processes.

Source: UNISON

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