THE TUC Congress in Liverpool yesterday unanimously voted for Composite Motion 16: Defending the NHS.
The motion calls on ‘the General Council to reactivate the NHSTogether campaign.’
It also calls on the General Council to work with NHSTogether unions and patient groups to campaign for:
‘i) services to remain within the NHS, delivered by NHS staff
‘ii) better standards of care for all, while retaining the quality and effectiveness of health care
‘iii) a moratorium on any further use of private companies in health care delivery
‘iv) the Cooperation and Competition Panel to be scrapped
‘v) making the case to the government for proper and full resourcing for any initiative to improve and develop service delivery
‘vi) staff and unions to be properly consulted and involved in decisions to alter service delivery
‘vii) evaluation of costs of privatisation, including related “quangos’’.’
Moving the motion, Lilian Macer, on behalf of Unison, said: ‘Our NHS continues to provide excellent care regardless of income or employment.’
She added: ‘As part of our million voices campaign, Unison made a point highlighting these issues and rebutting the myths in a fact file we sent to sister unions in the States.’
She continued: ‘The composite highlights the latest in a long line of initiatives designed to impose a market system on the English NHS.
‘Firstly, the Transforming Community Services programme intensifies the purchaser-provider split that sets competing health care providers against one another, and is creating a larger role for private companies and social enterprises.’
She said that will mean an ‘increasingly fragmented and complex system’ and also ‘for staff it will mean jobs, pensions and other terms and conditions coming under threat.’
She went on to attack a new body called the Cooperation and Competition Panel.
She warned: ‘Make no mistake, the panel is there to enforce opportunities for private companies to make further inroads into health care provision.’
And she went on to say that a new government scheme, ‘Necessity Not Nicety’, proposes ‘spending an extra £20 million setting up a series of Commercial Support Units to help develop local markets.
‘To quote directly from this esteemed publication, it states quite openly its desire to “maximise the contribution of third and private sector organisations’’.’
She concluded: ‘Congress, the government need to know this: union members from Unison and across the TUC will not stand idly by while the NHS is dismantled, piece by piece.’
Seconding Composite Motion 16, Lesley Mercer, from the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists, said:
‘The NHS has made concrete achievements. We should be celebrating it, not listening to those who denigrate it.’
She added: ‘The recession is starting to be felt in the NHS. Pressure is building for cuts, short-term cuts instead of long-term improvement.’
She continued: ‘Competition is fragmenting our services and wasting huge amounts of money.’
Unite Assistant General Secretary for the Public Sector, Gail Cartmail said that the trade union movement needs to send out the ‘strongest possible message’ that privatisation of the NHS is completely unacceptable.
Cartmail said: ‘It is clear that the not-so-subtle encouragement given by the government for the various privatisation initiatives, such as the Private Finance Initiatives (PFIs) and the misguided experiment with social enterprises, are the Trojan Horse that could lead to the fragmentation of the NHS.
‘Conservatives, such as MEP Daniel Hannan; right-wing media pundits; and Barak Obama-baiting American healthcare insurance companies all view the current creeping privatisation of the NHS as a golden opportunity to maximise profits for shareholders.
‘To create these so-called market mechanisms – that the British people have repeatedly said in opinion polls they don’t want – will cost an estimated £20 billion. This is money better spent on frontline services – more health visitors, more hip replacement operations, and more day surgery.’
Sharon Holder, GMB national officer, said: ‘The GMB is extremely concerned about the increasing process of outsourcing of NHS services.
‘This policy will only lead to chaos and fragmentation.
‘Competition makes public services worse.
‘It is a threat to wages and pensions.
‘Employers are creating a two-tier workforce.’
She added: ‘The GMB calls on the government to reverse the privatisation agenda before it’s too late and it opens the door to the destruction of the NHS.
‘We call on the Labour government to save our NHS.’
• Second news story
7 WARWICKSHIRE FIRE STATIONS TO CLOSE
FIRE chiefs in Warwickshire are planning to close one in four of its stations and axe a third of fire appliances under a cost-cutting drive, union leaders have claimed.
The Fire Brigades Union pledged to ‘strongly’ resist the cuts, which will close seven fire stations, and which it described as the biggest closure plan ever proposed by a fire service.
The union said the Warwickshire Fire Service is planning to announce proposals to close seven fire stations and cut a third of all fire appliances in a move which would lead to the loss of 100 jobs of retained firefighters.
The planned cuts will be unveiled under a so-called Service Improvement Plan, said the FBU.
The stations proposed for closure are Studley, Bidford, Brinklow, Fenny Compton, Kenilworth, Warwick and Bedworth, said the union.
Appliances crewed by firefighters working retained duty will also be removed from Coleshill and Atherstone.
Mark Rattray, the FBU’s Warwickshire brigade secretary, said: ‘The removal of fire engines from these stations will greatly increase the risk to the public and to firefighters.
‘If they go ahead we could see towns and villages being left without any effective emergency rescue cover.
‘The result of these cuts will be far fewer firefighters spread much more thinly across the county.
‘To call this a service improvement plan is an insult to the public and to professional fire crews.
‘The FBU will vehemently oppose any downgrading or reduction of frontline services.
‘We believe that the people of Warwickshire should not suffer cuts to frontline services.’