Unison joins growing list of health bodies and campaign groups excluded from Downing Street summit on embattled NHS bill


UNISON is today calling for health workers to be represented at the NHS Summit for the Health and Social Care Bill, taking place at Downing Street.

The union, which represents 450,000 health workers, including nurses, midwives, healthcare assistants, hospital porters, cleaners, and caterers, has not been invited to the summit.

Other groups on the growing list of professional bodies and royal colleges that are calling for the bill to be dropped have also been excluded.

Sara Gorton, UNISON senior national officer for health, said: “Health workers should have their voices heard when major changes to the health service are being discussed. Clearly, UNISON has not been invited because David Cameron and Andrew Lansley do not want to hear what we’ve got to say. But they need to face up to the truth that the bill is damaging for patients and for the NHS.

“Excluding our voices will not shut us up. UNISON will continue to call for this flawed and dangerous bill to be dropped, and for the government to come clean about the risks it poses to patients and to the cost of NHS care.”

UNSON’s key concerns about the Health and Social Care Bill include:

-It permits hospitals to raise huge extra amounts from private patients, meaning NHS patients may have to wait longer for treatment, endangering the principle that access is based on need rather than ability to pay.

-The bill brings wholesale competition into the NHS with the regulator able to enforce competition law in the style of the utilities regulators ñ standing in the way of integration and cooperation.

-It includes accompanying policies such as Any Qualified Provider, which will lead to a much greater role for private companies, despite scandals in other sectors demonstrating the folly of such an approach.

-It undermines the accountability of Parliament and the Health Secretary for the NHS, with implications for the maintenance of comprehensive, free and consistent NHS services.

-It will lead to at least 13,000 redundancies, with a colossal cost to the taxpayer and those who lose their jobs.

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