Thursday, February 23, 2012

Kill the Bill to Save the NHS

As part of his General Secretary's report to yesterday's meeting of UNISON's National Executive Council (NEC) General Secretary Dave Prentis reported that it remains UNISON's objective to defeat Lansley's Health and Social Care Bill, which will restructure our NHS ready for wholesale privatisation.

In welcoming latecomers to this campaign, including the Royal Colleges and the British Medical Association (BMA), our General Secretary noted that, had we had the unified opposition we now have during last year's "pause" the Bill might well be no longer with us. The further a Bill progresses through the Parliamentary process the harder and harder it becomes to stop, as the loss of face for politicians executing a pragmatic "U-turn" increases the closer a Bill comes to Royal Assent.

Nevertheless, with a gathering crecendo of opposition, and an imminent Liberal Democrat Spring Conference likely to debate a motion in opposition to the Bill, there is everything to play for.

Although the NEC was told that all UNISON Regions have been asked to turn out a deputation for the rally on 7 March ( there is a particular responsibility on London branches to send people along to Central Hall Westminster at 6pm on Wednesday 7 March. This is a citizenship issue which involves all UNISON members, branches and Service Groups - and every branch in London should aim to be well represented.

Whether or not you can be there on 7 March, set aside a little time online to see how you can support UNISON's campaign in defence of the NHS (

Finally, although it was pointed out at yesterday's meeting that this year sees the 64th birthday of the NHS, I can categorically refute any suggestion that I would be part of any collective musical rendition, by the UNISON NEC, of "When I'm 64" ( (not least because, in order to ensure that pensions policy remains congruent with the need for scheme sustainability, this should now be sung as "When I'm 68"...)

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