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2020 National Women's Conference
22 October 2019

The NHS was created over 70 years ago. It is the jewel in the crown of Britain and a radical achievement of the Labour Party. Established just 3 years after the end of World War ll. Aneurin Bevan�s ambition was to build a health service based on 4 principles: Free at the point of use, Available to everyone who needed it, Financed through general taxation, and Used responsibly. Conference notes that when the NHS was founded, the life expectancy for men was 66 and women, 71; now it is 79.4 for men and 83.1 for women; There were 86 deaths per 100,000 live births, now it is 46. Infant mortality was 34.5 for every 1,000 live births now this is 2.8 neonatal deaths per 1,000. The NHS is vital for women�s health and wellbeing. Prior to the inception of the NHS, healthcare was not a right but subject to charity or the ability to pay. Health was a luxury not everyone could afford. Women who could not pay often went without medical treatment for themselves or their children, relying on home remedies and unqualified assistance. After 70 years of the NHS, accessible by all citizens, we not only rely on the NHS but we cherish it because it belongs to us and is our NHS. All women will have used its service at sometime in their lives. It has led the way on medical treatment and innovations in health. From cradle to grave we rely on the NHS and its staff. Conference notes further that UNISON has campaigned and supported the NHS and our health members and has fought against privatisation of healthcare provision and services. As the NHS workforce is predominantly female, it stands to reason that privatisation would impact significantly on women as well as users of its services.Now we face the greatest threat to our NHS that it has faced since its foundation – the potential wholesale sell off posed through trade deals across the globe being contemplated by Boris Johnson PM with the Tory Government supported by its allies. Trade deals from the World Trade Organisation to Free Trade Agreements are no longer limited to setting rules about how goods cross borders. They encroach on every aspect of our lives, including our health provision. Because there already exists competition with the private sector in the NHS, this means that trade deals could include the NHS and lead to the selling of lucrative parts to the private sector across the globe. Conference is concerned that our right to free healthcare would be eroded and we would be forced to pay for services or take out private health insurance to cover our health needs, including for our children. The American President Donald Trump, has made it clear that he would want the NHS on the table in any trade deal with the USA. We know that the American system of healthcare provides a lucrative market and their eyes are on the NHS. Nearer to home in Southern Ireland private health insurance plays a pivotal role in health provision. It is completely unacceptable that after 70 years, which have seen such a great improvement in the state of the nation�s health, we could see the dismantling of the NHS through trade deals and an end to our right to universal healthcare at point of need, irrespective of our ability to pay. It is doubly unacceptable that any dismantling the NHS would have a disproportionate impact on women�s health and on their jobs. Women should not be disadvantaged from seeking healthcare due to costs taking us back 70 years. The Government should also consider how many women�s jobs would be unfairly impacted and the likely knock on effect on physical and mental health, creating a vicious circle. This Conference calls on the National Women�s Committee to: 1)Work with the NEC to highlight the particular impact on women in any campaign to save the NHS from being part of trade deals; 2)To work with the Labour Party through Labour Link to protect the NHS and its predominantly female workforce and to maintain universal access to healthcare free at the point of need healthcare; highlighting how without this, women�s health will go backwards; 3)Work with the TUC through our UNISON representatives to campaign to protect the NHS and its staff and as the biggest representative organisation of women in the UK, take every opportunity to highlight the impact on women in the workforce and as service users of any attempt to include the NHS in trade deals.