Speaking in the health debate at the Labour Party conference in Brighton today (Sunday), UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said:
“The NHS is our party’s greatest achievement, the jewel in the crown of the welfare state. It’s still free at the point of need, and a beacon of humanity and human decency.
“But Boris Johnson is a total disgrace. Last week he shamefully used the NHS as a cheap backdrop for a cheap stunt, posing for pictures and prancing through wards. Displaying incredible hypocrisy after a decade of Tory neglect, cuts and crises.
“It’s no wonder Omar Salem confronted the Prime Minister and spoke the truth to power, calling him out because what he saw is what we’ve known all our lives. You cannot trust a Tory with our NHS.
“Time and time again the Conservatives have slashed the NHS, pushing it to breaking point. But health workers are far more than extras in a cheap political stunt. Nurses, doctors, cleaners, healthcare assistants, paramedics, catering staff and porters are all essential and valued workers in the NHS team.
“The staff at Whipps Cross Hospital, who Boris Johnson sought to use this week, saved my life. Some years ago I was given a cancer diagnosis that gave me months to live. Yet they pulled me through, with their skill, care and compassion. That’s why, every minute of every day, I will fight to protect everything our NHS stands for.
“But the NHS is under siege, facing threats it will be sold off and privatised, with wholly owned subsidiary companies the latest tax wheeze.
“The NHS must never ever be sold off to US multinationals and parcelled up as part of a grubby free trade deal with Donald Trump.
“The Labour Party must always stand up for our NHS. It must always be a truly national health service – one that’s properly funded with decent pay for all NHS staff.
“If we are to save our NHS there is only one option. Labour has to win power.
“But divided parties never get elected so we owe it to our NHS to leave Brighton this week united.
“What the NHS needs, what the public and health workers need – like never before – is a Labour government.
“There must be less triggering, less of the denouncing and less of the deleting. Let’s get behind our leader, get out there to ensure the NHS stays in our hands and get our great party back in power.”
Notes to editors
– UNISON is the UK’s largest union, with more than 1.3 million members providing public services – in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in both the public and private sectors.
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