It was a huge pleasure to address our health conference this morning.
It’s a special event that I return to each year, and which inspires me every time. Not just because it’s a great event that shows what great work our union does in the health sector, but also because it provides a crucial platform for activists representing members in our country’s most valuable institution – the National Health Service.
I owe a personal debt of gratitude to our NHS, because like so many people, I owe it my life. That’s why I’ll never stop fighting for it, and for our health service members.
The next few years won’t be easy, but we should celebrate the victories we’ve had and will continue to have.
Whether it’s taking on NHS employers – and winning the fight to defend agenda for change, or winning maternity pay for trainee midwives.
Whether securing living wage agreements or winning for those members who need a pay rise most, where there is injustice in our NHS we will take it on.
Right now, the junior doctors are the victims of injustice – but they are not the only ones facing attacks in our NHS.
From the miserly attack on student nursing bursaries – which we will stand with our student members to defeat – to the utter failure to respect and honour promises to ambulance staff, the government is waging war on NHS staff.
Ambulance workers are amongst the worst hit. A little over a year ago they were made commitments on pay, but those promises have been broken and their trust has been betrayed.
These are the people who will care for us from car crashes to cardiac arrests – who are always there for us when we need them. But the government wants 2016 paramedic skills on 2004 paramedic pay.
So this union says enough is enough. Today, I announced that we will be launching a consultative ballot of UNISON ambulance staff.
And unless Jeremy Hunt delivers on his promises – there may well be more health workers joining junior doctors on picket lines some time soon.