“Let’s call a spade a spade: this is privatisation, pure and simple”. That was how Dave Prentis described what the government is doing to the National Health Service when he spoke at the rally to save the NHS in Manchester today.
With the Conservative Party starting its annual conference near by, UNISON’s general secretary said that it had come to power, “promising ‘no more top-down reorganisations’, with Prime Minister David Cameron personally assuring the electorate: ‘I’ll cut the deficit, not the NHS’.
“What did we get?” he asked, and cited the losses to frontline staff that the health service is now facing, with over 5,000 nurses’ posts alone having gone.
“It’s a race to the bottom. Companies offering up savings they can only meet by slashing the workforce and driving down quality.
“The NHS loses out, patients lose out, staff lose out: the only winners are the shareholders.
“Even the NHS chief executive now agrees that the government’s ridiculous competition rules are holding back quality improvements.
“Cameron said he could sum up his priorities in three letters: NHS. It turns out he was right. But in Tory language, this stands for ‘National Hospital Sell-Off’.”
Telling the crowds that privatising Hinchingbrooke Hospital had been “a failed experiment”, Mr Prentis went on to name check the likes of George Eliot Hospital in Nuneaton and others, where that experiment is set to be copied.
He called on people to “keep on fighting on the ground to defend our NHS,” stressing the importance to that of “kicking” the Conservatives “out of power in 2015”.