Unison National NHS Demo On June 30

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A section of the 2,000-strong march on February 3rd to keep open Whipps Cross Hospital
A section of the 2,000-strong march on February 3rd to keep open Whipps Cross Hospital

UNISON confirmed yesterday that it is holding a National Demonstration in London on Saturday June 30 in defence of the NHS.

A spokeswoman told News Line: ‘Our nec meeting agreed the date for the next stage in the campaign over our very serious concerns about what is happening to the NHS.’

The motion for a national demonstration was carried at the UNISON Health conference by a massive majority on February 23.

UNISON has also issued a warning after Health Secretary Hewitt gave the go-ahead for seven new Private Finance Initiative (PFI) hospitals, including a £111 million scheme for North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust.

Commenting on the PFI schemes, UNISON said the government will be paying £135 billion for just £42 billion worth of capital assets – with extra costs for services, that is over three times their capital value.

Karen Jennings UNISON Head of Health, said: ‘What a shame the government has turned to PFI to build these much needed new hospitals.

‘They should have learnt the lesson and built them using cheaper public sector borrowing. Instead taxpayers will be paying over the odds for years to come to cover the inflated costs.

‘Accountants, management consultants, lawyers and shareholders have all had rich pickings out of PFI.

‘Already the extra cost of PFI for the first wave of 18 signed hospitals is almost half a billion pounds every year. The fallout for some hospitals has been devastating, creating massive deficits causing widespread problems.

‘The Audit Commission has shown there is a “marked correlation” between the presence of new large building projects and the presence of deficits.

‘In England, of the 28 NHS hospitals with major PFI schemes in operation, half recorded a deficit in 2005-06, compared to the average of less than 30 per cent across all NHS hospitals.’

A BMA spokesperson said: ‘The NHS may have more new hospitals but at what price? Many trusts are now saddled with crippling debts as they struggle to meet the repayments.

‘The government seems intent on spending large sums of money in private sector deals, which have been shown on repeated occasions to offer poor value and can leave hospitals heavily in debt for decades.

‘The future of these hospitals is being mortgaged while private companies make profits from the NHS.’

Meanwhile, it has emerged that patients waited more than two hours on Monday to be admitted to the Royal Glamorgan Hospital in Wales as emergencies ‘overwhelmed’ the hospital over the last three days, with up to seven ambulances queueing outside.

Less than two weeks ago the Welsh Ambulance Service declared a state of ‘special emergency’ after record demand in Cardiff and the Vale in mid-February.

Welsh hospices warned yesterday that they may have to turn away terminally ill patients because of a funding crisis.