Stand up to anti immigrant racism in the NHS

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2015 Health Care Service Group Conference
5 January 2015

Conference notes that since the current government came to power in 2010, public services have been subject to savage cuts. Consequently, despite growing demands on the health service because of an aging population, there has been a significant cut in staffing levels. Since the Mid-Staffordshire report on safe staffing levels, the health service has begun to recruit more health workers. However, because there is a local and national shortage of qualified health professionals and the health service has struggled to fill vacancies and therefore looked to recruit the shortage of health professionals from inside and outside the European Union.

Conference notes that the NHS depends on migrant workers and has become increasingly concerned at the increased and sustained attacks on public services including the NHS from right-wing, racist, anti-immigration policies.

Conference notes that some politicians are seeking to blame immigrants using the NHS for the current financial deficit within the NHS. Unfortunately some of these views have gained some credibility in the right-wing media, especially with the increased profile of UKIP. As a result of anti-immigrant campaigns and policies, black and minority ethnic members face increased racist hostility at work and outside work.

Racism causes division and diverts from the real causes of the NHS problems, such as the Tory lead government’s cuts. The NHS depends on migrant workers and Conference is proud that in its 66 year history the National Health Service has been built and been sustained by 100,000s of British and immigrant workers.

The NHS Qualified Nurse Supply and Demand survey found that 45 per cent of surveyed organisations have actively recruited from outside of the UK in the last 12 months to fill nursing vacancies. Currently, 40% of NHS nurses and 25% of NHS doctors are migrant workers. It is this Conference’s belief that if all migrant workers were made to leave the UK then the NHS would face a catastrophic shortage of health professionals in all non-medical occupational groups.

Proposals to introduce charges for immigrants are not cost effective as they would cost more in administer than it would raise. More importantly, they make the notion of charging in the NHS acceptable. Charges are an attempt to blame this economic crisis on immigrants, leading to further racism, and more divisions between black and white workers.

Conference instructs the Health Service Group Executive to:

1) campaign against the racist scapegoating of immigrant workers;

2) oppose the introduction of NHS charges for migrant workers;

3) work with UNISON’s Black Members’ Committee to develop and highlight this campaign.