Rejecting the Tory vision of our NHS

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2015 Health Care Service Group Conference
5 December 2014

Conference notes the major problems that the current Tory-led coalition government has caused for our NHS.

Conference believes that funding has fallen well short of the level needed to sustain the type of NHS we all want to see, both directly in England and indirectly – through cuts to the Barnett formula – in the devolved nations.

As a result of this, Conference is appalled at the attacks on pay, terms and conditions that have taken place since 2010, alongside sweeping privatisation in England, thousands of job losses, and the proliferation of poor workforce practice.

Conference notes that attacks on staff pay, terms and conditions also have a detrimental impact on the services delivered to patients.

Conference is united in its desire to see the Conservatives removed from power at the forthcoming general election, and notes our role in ensuring that the NHS remains a toxic issue for them.

Conference believes that UNISON has a duty to outline an alternative approach to workforce issues in the NHS.

Conference welcomes the work done to extend access to the NHS Pension Scheme, and such an approach should be taken further to enable portability across different parts of the NHS of other benefits and entitlements of NHS employment, while ensuring security of employment.

With the integration of health and social care remaining a key priority for all political parties and in all countries of the UK, Conference also believes that consideration should be given to providing portability of benefits and entitlements across sectors.

Conference believes it is a scandal that people with much-needed skills have been made redundant rather than redeployed, as a result of fragmented organisational boundaries in the NHS.

Conference notes the call from various quarters for flexibility in working arrangements and the recent Five Year Forward View states that the NHS is too diverse for a “one size fits all” care model to apply everywhere.

Conference is also concerned that new models such as “prime provider” may lead to an increase in sub-contracting relationships.

Conference asserts that in order for such flexibility to be acceptable to staff there need to be minimum guarantees around job security and consistency of terms and conditions.

Conference believes that staff need to be actively engaged as proper partners when services are being organised, and particularly reorganised. This should include, for example, skills mix, appraisals and staff development.

Conference believes that the current push for 7-day services makes these issues even more pressing.

Above all, Conference asserts that in order for healthcare staff to be properly engaged in these big debates on system change, they need to feel properly supported and, crucially, fairly rewarded through that process of change.

And related to this, Conference believes that national pay bargaining and pay mechanisms should be enshrined in statute.

Conference therefore calls upon the Health Service Group Executive to:

1) work with other parts of the union to ensure that the NHS features heavily in the general election campaign;

2) continue campaigning against attacks on pay, terms and conditions, and poor workforce practice; and

3) promote alternative approaches to workforce engagement at a time of service change.