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2017 Health Care Service Group Conference
16 December 2016
Carried as Amended

UNISON Health Conference notes:

1)The alarming news that the government is encouraging councils to increase council tax in an attempt to fund massive funding gap in health and social care provision.

2)The King’s Fund has reported that the share of GDP spent on health has dropped from 8.8% in 2009, to 7.3% in 2014/15, and is projected to be just 6.6% in 2020.

3) Spending on social care has fallen by over 9% since 2010 and is set to fall below 1% of GDP by 2020. Even if every council added the 2% precept to council tax bills every year for the next four years, there would still be a £2.3bn funding gap.

4)It is in this context of underfunding that NHS England has set up 44 newly-defined sub-regional areas to develop ‘Sustainability and Transformation Plans’ (STPs). NHS providers, NHS commissioners and local authorities have been set the task of formulating plans to integrate health and social care services for their ‘footprint’ area.

UNISON Conference believes:

a)The funding environment and the requirement for STPs to make a combined saving of some £22bn in England means that this is a process of planning for cost reductions rather than for service improvements.

b)Decision-making is being done without public scrutiny and without clear lines of democratic accountability.

c)Private sector employers who provide health services are in a position to get a say in the content of the STP, thereby paving the way to further outsourcing and ultimately the privatisation of health services

d)UNISON health conference notes with concern that inadequate funding may result in the STPs leading to local controversies about where the deepest cuts to services should take place.

e)That an increase in council tax to pay for the Social Care underfunding is unfair since funds raised in this way will put pressure on individuals and families who are ‘just about managing’ instead of targeting those with the most wealth (wealthy individuals and corporations, for instance).

UNISON Health Conference resolves to:

i)Campaign to highlight the Government’s underfunding of the NHS and social care and the impact on vulnerable service users and the predominantly low-paid female workforce, including supporting local and national protests calling for additional funding for the NHS and social care sectors.

ii)Oppose local service reductions or closures, and consistently highlight the root cause in the underfunding of services by central government.

iii)Condemn the lack of openness and transparency in the formation of the STPs and call for public and staff engagement in planning future service provision.

iv)Use the avenues available at combined authority-level or working jointly with councils to oppose STPs and promote greater investment and better employment standards in social care and health services for all workers.