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2007 Health Care Service Group Conference
29 December 2006
Carried as Amended

Conference notes with deep concern the scale of cuts inflicted on the NHS, particularly over the last two years, with reports of thousands of job losses, and the closure of wards, departments and threats to close whole hospitals in many parts of the country.

Conference also notes the powerful local public resistance to these cuts, expressed by the large numbers of people who have turned out on local demonstrations and rallies to show their anger and opposition to seeing health services dismantled.

Conference welcomes the formation of NHS Together, a national coalition of unions and other organisations, united in the belief that NHS cuts are a national issue and therefore require a national, as well as local, response. This nationwide campaign, starting with the Lobby of Parliament in November 2006, is essential if the fight against NHS cuts is to be successful.

Conference recognises that the campaign against cuts cannot be separated from the campaign against marketisation and privatisation of NHS facilities. Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt has insisted that all NHS organisations must not only break even, but record a surplus in the financial year ending in 2008 .. Conference believes that this is because the present government is determined to run the NHS along ‘business’ lines, in order to make individual NHS facilities easier to sell off to the private sector, leaving the NHS itself as purely a ‘commissioner’ of services from a ‘range of providers’ (as indicated in the ‘Commissioning a Patient-Led NHS’ initiative).

A glimpse of what a privatised NHS will look like can be seen by looking at the fate of NHS dentistry, which has become virtually non-existent in many areas, thanks to ‘market forces’ dictating what services dentists can provide. Conference notes that the privatisation of NHS Logistics, a highly successful public operation was undertaken for reasons of ideology rather than for any “value for money ” purpose

Accordingly, Conference resolves:

1.To work with NHS Together to step up the campaign against NHS cuts, to restore services which have been cut, and to oppose and stop the drive to privatise NHS facilities. This campaign needs to be on a scale bigger than the successful campaign which defeated the hated Poll Tax, for it to be successful;

2.To give the strongest support to any groups of members who take lawful industrial action in defence of their jobs, the services they provide and against privatisation;

3.To publicly support “Keep Our NHS Public” Campaign and to encourage the fullest participation by the union at local level in establishing and building local coalitions of community groups, carer organisations, patient user groups and campaigning organisations such as Keep the NHS Public and related organisations;

4.To develop an alternative “vision ” for the NHS based on the founding principles of 1948 updated to a modern setting. We believe that the public would respond well to a re-iteration of the key principles of the NHS updated to the current period. This to include

a)funding through specific progressive taxation and national insurance payments;

b)an explanation of the value of collective provision, illustrated by documentation explaining how much is spent on services and what proportion this represents of taxation and national insurance paid;

c)the exclusion of the private sector;

d)the abandonment of the Private Finance Initiative, which has been demonstrably proved to be poor value for money by many independent review bodies, and replacement by publicly funded direct investment

We believe that this alternative “vision” would be well received and contribute greatly to negate the effects of the current Government propaganda about deficits and the illusory need for private sector involvement.