Urgent investment needed in NHS and social care

#STUC22 Congress heard that the COVID-19 pandemic has ruthlessly exposed the many deep and underlying problems in our economy. These problems are a consequence of a reckless austerity agenda and the lack of a coherent industrial strategy in key sectors in Scotland.

Delegates backed a call for urgent investment in Scotland’s maternity services, alongside investment in supply chains to deliver the resources that millions of NHS and social care staff need to be safe at their work, taking account of workforce diversity.

UNISON’s Jim McFarlane, speaking in support, told delegates that the pandemic clearly exposed the false narrative that the free market of supply and demand can meet the basic needs of our communities.

He paid tribute to the magnificent response of frontline workers in our hospitals and care homes, but added that “due to the slow, bureaucratic and sometimes mysterious ways that public sector procurement works, it meant too many health and social care workers were scrambling around for basic PPE just to do their jobs safely.

“Too often that wasn’t available. Too often what was provided was inadequate and out of date,” slammed Jim.

He called for a domestic manufacturer’s supply chain to ensure the right resources are in the right place at the right time.

Condemning the Tories for “raking in millions from public funds” for track and trace and and PPE contracts that didn’t work, Jim warned, “Never again should our members be put in that position, looking after and caring for vulnerable people, without the necessary PPE and safe staffing levels.

“Union reps are fighters but we shouldn’t be fighting for these basics during a public health crisis.”