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Author Topic: Unison Health Confence 2009  (Read 2994 times)

roger

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Unison Health Confence 2009
« on: April 19, 2009, 01:30:19 am »

The National Health Conference of Unison opens in Harrogate on Monday under banner of Organising to defend our NHS.   

Summing up the work of the union over the last year the service group executive report presents this in three objectives. Firstly, recruiting,organising, representing and retaining members. Secondly, negotiating and barganing on behalf of members and thirdly campaigning and promoting Unison on behalf of members.  The sponsored reprint  of Aneurin Bevan's in Place of Fear and support and funding for the NHS Support Federation  which challenged the privatisation of primary cares services, if necessry through legal routes, under the title of NHS unlimited  were some of the projects of the union in this campaign work.  The report also sites political activity fringe meetings at the Labour and Liberal Democrats conferences.   

Speakers at the conference  include Nicola Sturgeon, Cabinet secretary for health and wellbeing,  Scotland,  Sami Younis, Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions, Kris Rondeau, lead organiser from Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers,  Alan Johnson secretary of state for health and Michael McGimpsey, Minister ofr health social services and public safety, Northern Ireland.

Motions to conference this year are grouped into debates to Keep the NHS working, pay terms and conditins, Health and Safety and Recruitment and organising. Of particular note is  an amendments to the main motion of the Service Group Executive motion Keep the NHS Working.  These amendements point out that the government in bailing out the banks with taxpayers money means that health workers demand that the govenremnt  now should sieze back all of the PFI health projects and the massive profits that these finance capitalists extorted from the NHS and which the government supported. 

It is of very great significance for the workers movement that the demand to Stop Paying the Rich and Invest in social programmes becomes and immediate demand in the severe crisis in the NHS and throughout the whole economy.  If all act on such a demand then there is a posiblilty to put the economy on a sound footing.  A starting point to develop the economy without the present market economy that threatens to destroy not only the wider social economy but the NHS and other social programmes.   
« Last Edit: April 21, 2009, 12:36:49 am by roger »
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roger

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Re: Unison Health Confence 2009
« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2009, 11:14:11 pm »

First Debate of Unison Health conference  Organising to defend Our NHS

Motion 1 as amended - Keep the NHS working Campaign

Contribution of delegate from South Tyneside Health Branch

Conference

Our health care district is quite small and we have 1000 members mainly in acute and primary care.

Like branches we have spoken to the government has imposed  3% cuts every year. Also it has changed the payment system to a market system whereby the money follows the patient.

I don’t have time to go into the detail but our acute services have become  like a factory which is  on the brink of viability in market terms.  The Trust Managers now regret the foundation status that we opposed.  The budget of £100 million with a  £75 million  pay bill a year means that they are having to make cuts both in clinical and support service jobs to pay the wages. 

The issue we highlighted in our campaign against this is that the government is no longer taking up its responsibility  to fund the health service and guarantee the provision of these services unless that provision is transferred to the private sector where there are more guarantees than in the NHS..

In the community it is now a commission led system which is eating up all the resources of the NHS to marketise community health care and destroy acute care

The issue we have disussed constantly in the hospital is that it is our NHS, our health services and our workplaces.  I think the most important thing  to raise is what the questions are in order to find a solution. 

It is a question of how to organise when it is very difficult to organise when people are overworked and frustrated.

It is a question of how to fight  when it is very diffcult to fight.  How to involve the members in  taking up the fight themselves and releasing their initiative.

It is a question of stopping the rich being paid out of the NHS and investing in the NHS.

Most importantly it is a question for health workers to deal with the crisis of political representation and the necessity to intervene in the political process  to take hold of the NHS that belongs to us.

Thank you

(applause)
 
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roger

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Re: Unison Health Confence 2009
« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2009, 12:35:55 am »

One of the highlights of the first day of conference was to have the opportunity to listen to Nicola Sturgeon, SNP Cabinet Secretary  for health and wellbeing, Scotland.  She spoke for about 30  minutes punctuated  with applause to the points she made and standing ovation from many and most tellingly from the Scottish contingent. At the end also after answering questions in a fresh and very honest way she instead of leaving the hall she went to speak to the Scottish delegates.

In her speech she spoke about the values that they had were a strong belief in public ownership, collaboration and co-operation that beats hand down the values market and internal competition and contestability. She outlined how the Scottish Parliament had brought these principles to life.  The first principle was public ownership and delivery of health services which was backed by a budget of £10 billion a year.  She said it should be firmly in public hands and should work for public benefit and not private profit.  She said that it was right in theory and in practice because the very nature of health care is that it is not possible, even if it was desirable, to create a health market.

Public ownership is important in principle but more importantly is the policies that bring that principle to life.  She said tax payers money should be invested to build capacity in the National Health Service not to build capacity in the private sector and this was why the private sector in Scotland was marginal.  She secondly, the way we bring that principle to life is making a very significant shift away from private finance initiative (PFI) in the provision of NHS infrastructure. She said that PFI had been a bad deal for the taxpayer.  She highlighted and £800 million project in Glasgow paid  entirely by public capital.   She went on to say that GP practices should be part of the NHS family and were he gateway to health care . She said the government opposed these GPs being taking over by independent contractors  and would legislatively abolish that possibility.  She said that they have instructed that there will be no more contracting out of cleaning or catering services.   

She said privatisation undermined the NHS ethos and the notion of the NHS family.  She went on to say on funding that we should not pay charges for health care other than our tax contributions.  She said like England she did not see changes to dental charges in the foreseeable future but she spoke about the phased elimination of prescription charges by 2011.  She wasn’t going to comment on another government but it was deeply ironic that  in Scotland and SNP government, in Wales a Plaid Cymru/Labour coalition in northern Ireland  and all party coalition with a policy of scrapping prescription  charges yet it is the UK Labour Party the Party of Nye Bevan that is the last and the only defender of prescription charges and others may reflect on the irony and appropriateness of that.

She spoke about the Scottish conception of mutuatlity. She said that in summary it describes a vision of the NHS where ownership and accountably is shared between public and the staff who work in our NHS.  She described the three key strands of mutuality.  Giving he public greater say in the future direction of the NHS.  They have recently passed legislation to directly elect people to NHS boards which they are to pilot.  These will be fully evaluated before any decision to roll out across Scotland.   She said our services are still seen as fragmented on occasions so we are working hard to achieve integration principally though managed clinical networks of community health partnerships.  She said it was crucial that the duty to empower patients particularly to encourage the NHS to see itself as an agent for health improvement and not jus the treater of ill health. 

She then spoke about the staff and the partnership arrangements that they were proud of and were committed to making them work.   She spoke about the arrangements at national and local level to engage with trade unions and that it was important to treat staff appropriately.  She said that the unions would not say that everything was sweetness and light but that she hoped they would tell you that they foster and atmosphere of mutual respect that we put a lot of effort to try and find common ground and when disagreements do arise we try to handle them with responsibility and maturity.  She finished by praising the contribution of Scottish unison and that she highly evaluated there contribution to the health service in Scotland.


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roger

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Re: Unison Health Confence 2009
« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2009, 09:50:44 pm »

Johnson pledges no NHS cuts in recession

(21/04/09) "Better healthcare cannot be seen as expendable today because of the global economic downturn, when in yesterday's world of relative prosperity, it was essential," health secretary Alan Johnson told UNISON's health conference in Harrogate today.

"The NHS does not become less important for families facing economic uncertainty – it becomes more important."

With the government's investment in the NHS in recent years bringing UK health expenditure "very close" to the EU average, as a proportion of national wealth, further growth will not be as rapid, he admitted, but he assured delegates: "There can be no question of scaling back or cutting services.

"We have heard predictable calls from certain commentators that public services must take their share of the pain in the global recession; that if people in the private sector are losing their jobs, the response must be to throw nurses and teachers on the dole queue," the minister told delegates.

"Those advocating a freeze on public-sector pay believe that we should cut our way out of the recession," he added. "This government, together with every other G20 country, believes we must grow our way out of recession."

Praising the achievements of the NHS and health staff in recent years, Mr Johnson also recognised that many factors affecting people's health are "only tenuously" linked to areas directly within the Department of Health's remit.

Recalling the Black report of the 1970s, which sat on the shelf during the "two lost decades" of Tory rule, he revealed that the government will be setting up "a new national support team to tackle high infant mortality rates in the most deprived parts of the country."

This will "work with local health professionals and others to tackle poor housing, child poverty, maternal obesity, smoking and teenage pregnancy."

unison website
« Last Edit: April 21, 2009, 10:01:14 pm by roger »
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roger

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Re: Unison Health Confence 2009
« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2009, 09:52:24 pm »

Prentis warns against PFI bail-out
(20/04/09) "You're are at the heart of our union and our ethos," general secretary Dave Prentis told representatives of more than 450,000 health workers gathered at the union's health conference in Harrogate today.

And it is the values represented by UNISON, and health members in particular – caring, service, equality, solidarity and democracy – which explain why the union will be leading the campaign against privatisation, he said.

"UNISON will never, ever back down on the market," said Mr Prentis. "Patients are not consumers. The market cannot do a better job. Unlike Virgin Healthcare, we will not walk away when the going gets tough."

This is particularly important when "we have seen the biggest financial bubble in history burst".

Across the world, 20 million people have lost their jobs in the crisis, he noted, with two million unemployed in the UK, predicted to rise to three million by the end of the year.

"But as a trade union, we know this is not about figures, it's not about statistics, it's not about percentages," he noted. "These hide the truth about recession.

"This recession is about people's lives," said Mr Prentis: ordinary people who have given their lives to an employer, a public service, school or hospital, only to be shown the door; families who have built a home, only to have the bailiffs at the door; young people who have borrowed to get to university, only to have their future life taken further out of reach.

"And why?" he asked. "We know why. This crisis is a crisis of an unjust financial system where a few continued to profit by inflicting misery on many."

UNISON will be leading the campaign not just for public services to deal with the recession's impact, but "organising the fight for a better deal", promised Mr Prentis.

And ahead of Wednesday's budget, he warned: "UNISON will oppose any bail-out of PFI consortiums – not in our name.

"Our patience and our time is running out – we are looking to government for serious solutions."

Rather than "a golden carrot for the rich and a stick for the poor", he said, "we cannot allow our public services to pay the price of bailing out the banks – our members will not stand for it."

At the same time, he cautioned, "we know what the Tories have said, we know that the Tories will be worse."

And while the Tories are waiting in the wings, so are the "gutter racists" of the BNP who will exploit any opportunity to prey on people's hardships.

The union is at the heart of a campaign against the BNP's bid to win council and European parliamentary seats at this summer's elections "and you have to be at the heart of it", he told members, defending our principles and ethos of fairness, equality, solidarity and democracy.
www.unison.org.uk


« Last Edit: April 21, 2009, 10:02:08 pm by roger »
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