NHS Funding

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2002 National Delegate Conference
9 May 2002

Conference welcomes the one billion pounds extra for the National Health Service (NHS) in 2002/2003 that was announced in the pre Budget report. Also that the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, promised spending would continue to rise bringing the rest of the UK into line with other European countries.

Conference notes that it will take longer than a few years to reverse 30 years of under-investment but believes money is just beginning to flow into the NHS. Furthermore, Conference believes that modernisation and extra funds for staff pay must go hand in hand with plans for modernisation.

If the Government wants to give patients more choice, then there needs to be spare capacity. There is no slack in the system at the moment. Currently, the system is overstretched and in need of investment. To build the capacity to treat more people faster will require staff to receive a fair reward for their dedication and commitment.

Conference regrets that the NHS has faced an unfair barrage of criticism recently and that both the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives have no credible policy while they go in search of European funding alternatives.

We welcome the Wanless Review interim report that states “The current method by which health care is financed through general taxation is both a fair and efficient one”. Conference believes that, given the resources, the NHS and its staff can deliver a world-class service for all citizens of the UK.

Conference urges caution when making European comparisons. Though the French and German social insurance systems may give the patient more choice over hospitals and achieve high satisfaction levels, they are problematic. In Germany the affluent opt out and rely on private cover. In France only 70 per cent of primary care fees are reimbursed. Work based insurance schemes cherry pick the fittest, low risk people and the state insures the poor, sick, elderly and unemployed.

Conference condemns the announcement from Alan Milburn regarding the appointment of private sector managers to run the NHS in England and Wales. UNISON Scotland will work tirelessly to ensure this shameful practice is not introduced by the Scottish Executive.

Conference also condemns Tory research published in April entitled “Alternative Prescriptions” as a result of which the Tory leader confirmed that a Tory government would change radically the way the NHS is financed and organised by injecting more private cash and medical services into the system and by the increased use of private health insurance.

Conference re-confirms its total commitment to an NHS free at the point of need and paid for out of general taxation and instructs the National Executive Council to continue to campaign vigorously for this policy and against any attempts to privatise the NHS.