Union says NHS is not safe in Tory hands


UNISON members yesterday held a minute’s silence for the NHS outside Parliament as a 999 emergency protest against the Health and Social Care Bill failed to derail the legislation.

The protesters, including doctors, nurses and paramedics, wore sweatshirts with the slogan: “Never trust a Tory with your NHS.” They gathered at Westminster yesterday afternoon in a last-ditch to scupper the Bill, but after more than a year of debate and more than 1,000 amendments, it was last night voted through the House of Commons and is expected to become law next week.

Monica Hirst, a nurse and health visitor who works in Ealing, London, told UnionNews there had already been redundancies, and other unwelcome changes: “Services are being tendered out to any willing provider before the Bill is passed.”

She added: “The concern is for vulnerable members of society, people who don’t have a voice, such as the disabled, and the safety net that has always been there for there for them – I am really worried.

“The groundswell of opposition to this is immense, there is a real drop in morale because of this, and people are insecure and unsure about their future.

Sara Gorton, UNISON national officer for health, said: “It is an absolute scandal that a Bill that nobody supports and with no electoral mandate can just be forced through.

“The fact that the Bill may be passed doesn’t mean our campaigning will stop, we will campaign against a two-tier system and hold the government to account.

“The worst thing is the lifting of the private patient income cap, so more and more people could be offered the chance to queue jump for operations and services.

“It is the wrong Bill at the wrong time, and the public know that. They are not fooled by a government that tells them they will maintain the quality of the NHS.

“Everything that has happened since the Bill was published shows that the Tories cannot be trusted on the NHS – and the NHS is not safe in their hands.”

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis pledged to continue the union’s fight for the NHS, promising: “We will continue to campaign hard to try and mitigate the worst excesses of this Bill.”

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