- 2014 Health Care Service Group Conference
- 1 January 2014
Our NHS is facing the biggest threats in its 65 year history. The impact of the Health and Social Care Act is being felt across all four countries and austerity measures, reorganisations, funding cuts and freezes that are being imposed by the Westminster Government has led to increasing fragmentation of health services.
Since 2013 when the new arrangements came into effect we have seen the creation of the CCG’s, CSU’s, merged Trusts and new commissioning and support functions. Through the new structures, services are being delivered differently and often being provided by non–NHS providers.
Conference believes that although in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland devolution means that the Tory-led government cannot directly privatise the NHS, as they are doing in England, they can starve it of resources and funds. The Westminster Government is cutting back on the funding provided to the Welsh and Scottish government and this has put the health budgets under increasing pressure.
In England the Tories’ Health and Social Care Act has totally changed the commissioning landscape of the NHS and introduced privatisation in a way never seen before, creating huge new national bodies and hundreds of local bodies as well as creating the potential for members to be transferred to voluntary and private organisations.
Many of the members who have transferred are operational service staff who are now facing threats to their jobs as business redesigns have emerged in four of the new NHS bodies.’
There were just 162 employers dealing with commissioning of Health services but after the 1st April 2013 this increased to nearly 400. These employers include NHS Property Services, Public Health England, Clinical Commissioning Groups, Commissioning Support Units, NHS England and Health Education England and others. Over the last two years UNISON has been working hard to establish national and regional Partnership Forums in order to consult and negotiate with our members over changes to their pay, terms and conditions as well as ensure a smooth transition to the successor bodies. Conference believes that it is important that UNISON continues to have as much influence as possible in these successor bodies and continues to take the lead in the new partnership forums.
The fragmentation of NHS commissioning means that following and challenging commissioning decisions which lead to outsourcing and privatisation become more challenging as central Tory policy is to sell off the NHS to the private sector. UNISON needs to maintain its influence at all levels within the NHS commissioning structures to enable pressure to be placed on the decision makers to remain accountable and ensure transparency in procurement.
UNISON has won recognition and Partnership agreements with all the new national bodies and with many of the Clinical Commissioning groups and Commissioning Support Units. However not all CCG’s and CSUs have signed formal agreements with us and this is understandably a major priority for regions and health branches.
In order to compete with private providers, some Trusts are implementing many changes to our member’s jobs and terms and conditions. All too often we are left defending our member’s jobs and bands as Trusts seek to apply downgrading or skill mixing. Top down restructuring is becoming commonplace and vacancies are less likely to be filled as NHS Trusts seek to make their efficiency savings at the cost of staffing levels.
Remote or ‘agile’ working is becoming the norm in many community and support services and the traditional model of staff being based in an identified building is fast becoming a thing of the past as staff move away from being located in a set office space.
Conference welcomes the work which has been undertaken in Regions with Branches to develop the appropriate structures to represent and support members in the new NHS organisations.
Conference believes that the large increase in UNISON membership at the time of the Pensions dispute demonstrates that when the union gives a lead, it can encourage and inspire activists and lead to a growth in membership.
Conference calls upon the Health Service Group Executive to:
1)devise and implement a strategic organising plan for building density, membership and activist participation in both the successor national bodies and the hundreds of local CCGs and CSUs;
2)work with regions and branches to set up and run recruiting and organising projects in all of the new NHS bodies;
3)promote and share the different representation, organising and recruitment methods that have been implemented across different regions and branches;
4)ensure that there are effective consultation mechanisms and partnership forums in place across the successor NHS organisations and that we set up accountable democratic structures in all of the new employers to elect UNISON representatives able to look after our members;
5)to communicate and engage with members in the new bodies, encouraging them to become further involved in the union both by becoming union activists and in joining the Union where they are not yet members and to ensure that this work is embedded into One team campaign that is being led by the Operational service occupational group.
6)to continue the excellent work we have done with the other NHS recognised trade unions in building a unified Trade union voice in all of these employers.