Health Conference 2017

Health conference backs Scotland call for campaign to defend NHS and more…

Gordon McKay
Gordon McKay

Scotland won UNISON Health Conference’s backing for a five-point plan to build a campaign to defend the NHS.

The Conference from 24-26 April called for the Health leadership to work with the Health Committees of the four nations and with Regional Health Committees to:

• produce blueprints for the future provision of health care across the four countries of the UK. The overarching principle will be NHS services publicly funded, publicly owned and staffed by public employees.

• examine the partnership model of industrial relations in Scotland which has delivered significant gains for NHS staff at the same time as avoiding privatising of public services

• and lobby the governments and senior opposition parties in all of the four countries in the UK to engage in serious, meaningful discussion with UNISON about the future of health care provision.

In a rousing performance, Gordon McKay, Scotland NEC Member, told delegates: “Today is about ensuring that this union makes sure the public knows that on June 9th there will be one of two governments in the UK.

“There will be either a Labour government whose vision of the NHS fits with that of this union. An NHS free at the point of need, paid for out of general taxation with those who can afford the most paying the most.

“The alternative is a Tory government committed to handing over our healthcare to leeches of Virgin who structure their companies out of tax havens of the virgin islands, so that not only do they milk money out of the NHS by excessive charging and holding down wages but they then put nothing back as they dodge paying their corporation tax.”

The motion slammed the closing of hospital beds before fully funded and comprehensive community services are in place.

It welcomed the significant improvements in the health of people in Scotland including overall health, life expectancy and survival rates for a number of conditions such as heart disease.

But it noted that the 2016 Audit Scotland report suggests the NHS in Scotland is coming under threat financially.

Scottish Health boards are having to make £492m in savings in an attempt to balance the books in the financial year 2016/17.

It is at a time when agency staff spend has risen to £175m and the temporary staffing bill has almost doubled. In health visiting the vacancy rate is now running at 9%.

Although there is clear evidence that staff shortages and a reliance on temporary staff is detrimental to patient care, nothing is being done to tackle the problem.

The biggest area of concern is an increasing elderly population who are seeing cuts in health care provision at the same time as an underfunded home care service.

Gordon advised conference: “The Tories will hand over our NHS to pirates like Consort, who by 2028 will have received £1.3bn in public money for building a single hospital in Edinburgh that cost less than £200m to put up.”

Gordon warned: “The NHS won’t end with the big bang of a piece of legislation. It will end after being bled dry by the withholding of finances and the hiving off of our services to private firms by the Tories until it cannot deliver any more.”

Margaret Bean
Margaret Bean

Tackling low pay

Margaret Bean, from UNISON NHS Glasgow Clyde & CVS, spoke on UNISON Scotland’s motion on tackling low pay.

It congratulated Scotland on winning a deal that means, with the deletion of Band 1, the lowest paid full time member of staff in NHS Scotland gets £3,000 more than the equivalent member of staff in the NHS elsewhere in the UK.

Wilma Brown
Wilma Brown

Fife Health’s Wilma Brown, speaking on behalf of the Service Group Executive, praised the great work UNISON Scotland had done in addressing low pay.

Share successes to recruit

Rakiya Suleiman
Rakiya Suleiman

Lothian Health’s Rakiya Suleiman was one of the speakers backing UNISON Scotland’s motion calling on the union to publicise its successes in a UK wide recruitment strategy that learns from each other’s successes.
Conference Home | UK Health Conference pages