Darzi Report

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2008 Health Care Service Group Conference
12 December 2007
Carried as Amended

Conference acknowledges that the tone and content of much of the report Our NHS Our Future is positive for the future development of the NHS and represents something of a shift in recent government policy towards healthcare provision. The vision presented by Lord Darzi of an NHS that is safe, personalised to individual needs, and equally available to all is in line with UNISON’s own aspirations for the service. The celebration of the role of NHS staff and their location at the cutting edge of innovation and change is most welcome, as is the recognition that the private sector does not have all the answers.

The emphasis on hospital cleaning and the screening of patients for MRSA are major steps towards tackling hospital-acquired infections. The increased role afforded the Patient Safety Agency is something that UNISON has been pushing for and fully supports. It is important that staff can report any incidents and reduce the risk of cross infection. We hope that the tough powers given to the new Health and Social Care Regulator will cut the number of patients contracting MRSA and other hospital acquired infections by pushing Trusts into investing their money where it is most needed. Trusts must ensure that there is sufficient capacity in hospitals with enough beds to treat patients identified through screening in a safe environment. Anticipated increases in the number of GP’s, nurses and health care assistants serving some of the poorest areas of the country alongside more convenient opening times are also welcome.

Despite all this, there are some outstanding concerns that mean we should not accept the report uncritically. There is still no acknowledgement of the fundamental role played by hospital cleaners in reducing rates of infection. The cancellation of a number of privatisation deals in November demonstrated the lack of value in these contracts, and is in-line with the general shift of tone represented in the Darzi report. However, a shift in tone is not enough. The long-term future of the NHS can only be safeguarded, which Lord Darzi says that he wants to see, by a reversal of the privatisation agenda which has beset the NHS for the past decade. By all the markers which matter – quality, innovation, workforce development and involvement – public provision of NHS services delivers better outcomes at better value than private provision and competition.

Therefore, Conference calls upon the Health Service Group Executive to ensure that:

1)The union continues to campaign and argue for an absolute limit upon the use of the private sector in the NHS, particularly within primary care which seems to be the latest target;

2)The campaign targets limitations on the private sector as a key element of the newly proposed NHS Constitution.