‘UNLIMITED NHS PRIVATISATION’ – health unions must act, says consultant

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Unison head of health, Karen Jennings yesterday slammed Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt’s claim that the district general hospital is out of date and no limits should be put on NHS privatisation.

Jennings said: ‘Patricia Hewitt hasn’t spent a life in the health service.

‘All the TUC affiliates and all the non-affiliates – Unison, the BMA, the Royal Colleges of Nursing and Midwifery – are all saying this is wrong.’

In a keynote speech, Hewitt said yesterday: ‘We should not try and set arbitrary targets or limits on one provider or another.’

She added that district general hospitals were not right for the 21st century.

Dr Barry Monk, consultant dermatologist at Bedford Hospital, said: ‘There are problems which have to be addressed and they’re not being addressed by shutting down perfectly adequately functioning hospitals.

‘That’s why I intend to stand for parliament under the Save Bedford Hospital banner.’

British Medical Association Chairman, Mr James Johnson, said: ‘The BMA is very concerned about the potential open door policy to the private sector.’

RCN General Secretary Dr Beverly Malone said: ‘This headlong rush into reform is simply leaving disaffected staff in its wake, and risks giving people services they do not want.’

Consultant surgeon Mrs Anna Athow said: ‘Labour is rushing through the “reforms”.

‘There are the 60 reconfigurations, meaning A&E closures, announced by new NHS chief executive Mr Nicholson last week and now 100 per cent privatisation of health provision from Hewitt.

‘Blair is rushing to destroy the NHS before he leaves office.

‘The unions need to organise action in support of the NHS Logistics workers who are coming out on strike against privatisation on September 21 and 26 – all the unions should support them.

‘There needs to be an emergency summit of all the NHS unions and the TUC to organise a National Day of Action to defend the NHS.

‘This cannot wait until February.’