Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Support strike to save our NHS

UNISON members employed by NHS Logistics start national strike action tomorrow.

Around 900 staff were balloted by UNISON, with 74% voting for strike action on a 66% turnout."Our members at the five NHS Logistics depots voted overwhelmingly for the strike action," said UNISON head of health Karen Jennings."They have a very strong sense of loyalty to the NHS and have worked hard to make NHS Logistics a highly competitive, innovative NHS service. "Last year it delivered savings to trusts of £2.8 million: cash that can be ploughed back into front-line services."NHS Logistics has a fantastic track record on innovation and awards for efficiency. There can be absolutely no justification for privatising this service."HS Logistics is a not-for-profit organisation supplying hospitals, GP surgeries and patients with more than 43,000 items including essential surgical supplies and products such catheters, hand-gel, swabs, bandages, disposable bedpans and food.

Patricia Hewitt may want more private sector involvement in our NHS, but UNISON members do not. Opinion poll evidence shows that we have majority public support for our opposition to further privatisation. As Keep Our NHS say in their recent press release – privatisation is also the cause of cuts in our NHS.

We can’t all be on the picket lines at NHS Logistics but we can all give political support to this important struggle.

UNISON is encouraging branches and members to write to their local MP to urge them to tell Health Minister Andy Burnham why NHS Logistics must remain part of the NHS and staff must not be outsourced.You can contact your MP via the website:

Below are some key points you may wish to include in your letter.

NHS Logistics provides the health service in England with an enormous range of critical products – from thermometers and syringes, to baby milk and patients’ slippers and bandages to cleaning products.
The non-profit organisation helps the NHS reduce costs and free up much-needed resources for patient care. And it has won numerous awards for doing this.
Last year (2005) £3m was returned to NHS trusts as a value rebate - will the shareholders of a private company be generous enough to share their profits with the NHS?
We believe the decision to outsource the work of these loyal and committed staff was taken without proper consultation - UNISON believes that there is no viable business case for this decision and has told ministers so - they are not listening.
We know that this decision has been taken purely for financial reasons, based on potential savings for the NHS, but we believe that cost cutting will reduce the quality of the products purchased for the NHS to use.
NHS Logistics delivers directly to hospital wards and operating theatres. Getting it wrong could be a matter of life and death - should this be left to a parcel delivery company?

Patricia Hewitt thinks it should, but only Tony Blair agrees with her (and perhaps some of the less intelligent shareholders in DHL...)

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