UNISON vowed to continue the campaign against privatisation and outsourcing in the NHS at its health conference in Liverpool today.
“People before profits? Absolutely. All the time, every time.” London ambulance worker and service group executive member Eric Roberts stated, noting that PFI deals have left the country with £222bn debt.
And while PFI has been used by all governments, he added, the Tories are deliberately trying to destroy and sell-off the NHS.
NHS privatisation has to stop, “It’s not economics. It’s not in the best interests of patients. It’s ideological madness.”
And it doesn’t work, he added, noting the experience of Hinchingbrooke Hospital, where private company Circle had “come in the front door” with bright promises – but when the profit didn’t come, “it skulked out the back door in the night.”
As Diane Brown from the South West noted: “Privatisation doesn’t even save the trust money.”
At the end of the day, said Wahida Foreman from Harlow, “private companies are there to make a profit, not provide services.”
Delegates agreed a comprehensive set of campaign priorities to:
- oppose privatisation and outsourcing – including through PFI, international trade and investment deals being negotiated by the EU – across the NHS including operational services;
- keep commissioning in England in public hands;
- negotiate procurement policies which cover alternatives to outsourcing and which involve unions;
- oppose mutualisation – as Emma Collette of Easter region said: “It’s our NHS and we own it already: this is a con”
- campaigning for proper funding of the NHS to tackle the bed shortage.
“If the next government is serious about the NHS, it must ensure a long-term sustainable funding plan is in place,” said Richard Pitt of the nursing and midwifery occupational group.