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

Conference notes the current trend in government policy towards shifting the balance of health care provision towards primary care and away from acute sector provision.

Conference reaffirms its opposition to the continued move towards increasing contestability and fragmentation in the provision of primary care services. Conference believes that this move will lead to a poorer service for patients as well as worse terms and conditions for staff.

Conference notes the report of the Third Sector Commissioning Task Force, ‘No excuses. Embrace partnership now. Step towards change!’ and expresses its concerns at the Task Force’s stated aims to “help to remove barriers to entry for all providers of health and social care services” and to “promote equality of access for all types of third sector organisations”.

While Conference recognises the value of health and social care provided by some community and voluntary organisations, Conference strongly believes that the increased use of the third sector and so-called social enterprise models within primary care should be resisted and must not be viewed as an opportunity to increase private sector provision through the backdoor.

Conference recognises and applauds the achievement of Pam Smith in her appeal court victory that ruled that proper consultation had not taken place in the awarding of the contract for GP services in North East Derbyshire to United Health Europe.

Conference also recognises that although these reforms at present only directly affect England, these reforms are likely to have implications for the other three UK countries in the future.

Conference calls on the Health Service Group Executive to work with branches, regions, national office, other UNISON service groups, Labour Link and the GPF to:

a)Campaign vigorously at a national level against the privatisation of services and for the ending of any process of transferring staff and/or services into the private or independent sector

b)Press the government to ensure that proper consultation of staff, patients and the public takes place to enable them to influence local decision making in order to implement effective and appropriate service provision agreements;

c)Continue to monitor and check the reconfiguration of primary care trusts and monitor and respond to government documents and policy concerning the primary care sector;

d)Press the government and employers to ensure that sufficient funding is available for training of primary care staff and those staff transferring from secondary care settings to adapt to their new working environments and that such funding is not reliant on the new service being run by the private sector;

e)Encourage primary care branches to work closely with MPs and constituency offices to highlight our opposition to private sector involvement in the provision of primary care services;

f)Ensure that branches affected by the reconfiguration of primary care trusts are fully supported and encouraged to update information on the Bargaining Information System and RMS;

g)Ensure that the primary care campaign remains closely linked to the NHS Together campaign, Keep the NHS Working campaign, Keep Our NHS Public and a wider coalition of user stakeholders to counter the proliferation of the private sector in health care provision;

h)Provide guidance materials and information to members who face being transferred to a social enterprise;

i)Provide assistance to members to help them resist the transfer of their services and employment to social enterprises includng support for industrial action taken within UNISON’s rules;

j)Campaign to ensure that staff being transferred to social enterprises or third sector providers do not suffer detrimental terms and conditions and have safeguarded pensions;

k)Undertake closer monitoring and further research on social enterprises and the framework within which they must work.