TIME TO DEFEND NHS! say UNISON and the GMB

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‘We need an end to the privatisation of the NHS,’ a UNISON spokeswoman told News Line yesterday.

She was responding to government backing for the giant Boots drugs manufacturer’s moves to install GP surgeries and consultant-run health super-clinics in its High Street chemist stores.

The UNISON spokeswoman added: ‘This is a privatisation too far.

‘What will happen when Boots feel it’s not profitable enough to run services in their stores.

‘They will have no compunction about closing them down and leave people without GP services.

‘We are backing our branches across the country to mobilise support against job cuts and cuts in services.

‘The government are not telling the local communities or the staff before announcing major changes to NHS services.

‘We have a meeting with the Health Secretary on Wednesday.

‘All the health unions as well as the RCM, BMA and RCN have got together to raise our concerns with Patricia Hewitt.

‘We are planning a major campaign over the summer and will be lobbying parliament in the autumn and holding a major national demonstration in the New Year.

‘We will be raising our concerns at the TUC and Labour Party conferences.’

The GMB trade union national officer for health, Sharon Holder, told News Line: ‘We will be making representations to the TUC about taking action over this.

‘Action will be taken at the Labour Party conference.

‘This is another example of the government outsourcing NHS services.

‘It is consistent with Independent Treatment Centres and Foundation Hospitals, all examples of privatisation.

‘It can’t be left to the health unions. We the British public have to save the NHS and its principles.

‘If we let the government continue its policy of outsourcing services then we will have no NHS to speak of in the 21st century.’