‘There will be no more NHS Logistics,’ UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis assured News Line yesterday.
He was referring to the way the unions allowed the sell-off of the NHS supplies organisation to parcels company DHL.
He added: ‘We will use every means at our disposal to prevent our health services being privatised.
‘We will support our members taking industrial action to defend their jobs.’
Asked would he call a national strike to defend NHS jobs and services, Prentis replied: ‘That’s up to the democratic wishes of our membership, I’m only one man.’
News Line interviewed Prentis at a lunchtime rally outside Kingston Hospital in Surrey, against £20m cuts, with hundreds of student nurses being told they won’t have jobs when they graduate in September.
Over fifty student nurses, nurses, physiotherapists, radiographers, doctors, midwives, student midwives and administration staff turned out for the rally.
Addressing them, Prentis said: ‘We work hard in our public services and we are not going to be treated like this by the government and this hospital.
‘NHS staff do years and years training. The government’s under two per cent pay offer is an insult.
‘We’re not going to stand for it any longer. We will take action to defend jobs and services.’
Prentis said millions will be turning out on the NHS Together Day of Action today, adding: ‘We are sending out a powerful message to the government that no one will get elected if they don’t support the NHS.’
Kingston UNISON branch secretary Nora Pearce congratulated everyone from all grades in the hospital for turning out.
She said: ‘We say to the government, “we don’t like what you are doing – we don’t like Patricia Hewitt and the Department of Health and what you are doing to our hospitals”.’
Student nurse Karen Sheerin told News Line: ‘We’re concerned about getting jobs.
‘We’ve had £46,000 spent on each student nurse over three years and it looks like we’re going to have to work in the private sector, which we don’t want to do.
‘We want jobs in the NHS.’
Student nurse Kelly Green added: ‘We’ve been told there’s no jobs for us when we qualify.
‘They’ve told us to look for jobs outside the NHS and to get “any job as close to the nursing profession as possible”.
‘There’s about 150 in our cohort coming out in September, that’s not including the mental health nurses, child branch and learning disability nursing students.’
• Second News Story
PAY CUT ‘BETRAYAL’ FOR DOCTORS– SAY BMA
THE 2007-08 pay settlement for doctors announced by Health Secretary Hewitt on Thursday is a ‘grievous insult and betrayal’, the British Medical Association said yesterday.
‘Doctors will not sit idly by while their negotiated pay contracts are chiselled away, year in and year out,’ BMA Chairman, Mr James Johnson, warned.
BMA GP’s Committee Chairman, Dr Hamish Meldrum, said family doctors will feel profoundly let down by the fact that the Review Body believes they are not worth a pay increase at all.
‘This is a grievous insult to GPs. A zero increase equates to a pay cut. For the second year running, not only will GPs get nothing to keep up with the cost of living, they will still have to meet all the annual increases of running their surgeries, including paying their staff.’
He warned: ‘Patients value their family doctors – what a travesty that the state values them at nothing.’
Deputy Chairman of the Juniors’ Committee, Dr Masood Ahmed, said: ‘This is appalling. Junior doctors have put up with a lot over the last few years – rising intensity of work, demanding targets, long shifts without adequate rest facilities, and the shambolic introduction of a new training system.
‘Now the government is rubbing salt in the wounds by refusing to recognise our value to the NHS. There’s no doubt that this will prove the last straw for many junior doctors.’
Chairman of the Consultants’ Committee, Dr Jonathan Fielden, said: ‘Consultants are struggling with the threat of redundancy while trying to manage an incoherent reform agenda that is fragmenting the health service and they will now feel their efforts are not supported.’
Dr Ashok Pathak, Chairman of the BMA’s Staff and Associate Specialists Negotiating Committee said: ‘It is not fair to punish doctors for the financial mismanagement of the NHS.’
Professor Michael Rees, Chairman of the BMA’s Medical Academics Committee said: ‘We are in the midst of a medical academic recruitment crisis, with recruitment figures from the most recent intake of junior doctors suggesting that they are put off becoming academics by significantly lower lifetime earnings.
‘The effective pay cut announced today by the Doctors’ and Dentists’ Review Body is likely to make matters worse.’