Stop Privatisation and Marketisation of Our NHS

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2007 Health Care Service Group Conference
18 April 2007

Conference is outraged that a Labour government is continuing to privatise NHS service and staff. Conference reaffirms our total opposition to the privation and marketisation of the NHS, in whatever from(such PFI and LIFT, use of the private sector to carry out NHS work, transfer of service to private sector ownership or management, Independent Sector Treatment Centres (ISTCs) and their second wave – Independent Sector Integrated Clinical Assessment and Treatment Service (IS ICATS).

In relation to ISTC and ICATS, Conference notes with dismay that in a report published in July 2006, the parliamentary Health Select Committee heavily criticised the use if ISTCs – they had made no major contribution to increasing capacity or reducing waiting lists, there was no evidence that they are more efficient or that they provide greater innovation, and they cost on average 11% more to perform the same procedure than NHS service. Despite this report, the government almost immediately announced £1 billion worth of contracts for the expansion of the use of private sector companies to run diagnostic centres (the ICATS).

Conference welcomes the excellent briefing documents and a fact sheet produced by the UNISON’s Bargaining Support Group on these whole issues, and applauds strong campaigns such as strikes by NHS Logistics member and continuing campaign by Prescription Pricing Division branches. Conference also acknowledges the role which UNISON has played in bringing together all NHS trade unions and staff side organisations under the TUC umbrella of ‘NHS Together’, and in organising the involvement and lobbying of MPs.

However, Conference is concerned that generally the campaign against privatisation and marketisation has not been successful as the campaign against cuts, and the slogan ‘keep the NHS Working’ does not express a clear enough statement against privation and marketisation. At national, regional and local level, we have not yet been successful enough in linking the campaign against privatisation and marketisation with public and community campaigns against local cuts and closures. And we have not done enough to promote our policy of supporting and working with Keep Our NHS Public (KONP) locally and nationally.

Conference therefore resolves to:

1.step up the campaign against all forms of privatisation and marketisation of NHS services and staff, where possible working with other NHS trade unions and staff side organisations and with other campaigning organisations.

2.ensure that campaign material encourages support for and with the broadest coalition of community, carer, patient user and campaigning groups, including KONP.

3.continue to support branches in resisting any form of privatisation or marketisation, where necessary by supporting industrial action within UNISON’s rules. on the Health Service Group Executive to ensure that BSG briefings and facts sheets should be publicised widely to all UNISON branches and members, for example, by articles in U magazine, and in a format which could be easily used in branch newsletter and leaflets.