From UNISON Active
Following Dave Prentis’ rallying of health delegates to the National Health conference, there was a rousing demo on the concourse outside the Echo Arena. Speakers from across Europe pledged solidarity in the fight to defend public services and public sector workers.
It was such a disappointment that such euphoria created by the huge demo on 26th March, Dave’s call to arms, and a buzzing rally should be dampened by lame and lukewarm response by the shadow Health Secretary, John Healey. His speech merely poured cold water on the optimism and confidence of delegates.
Healey’s address was peppered with praise for New Labour’s failed policies of the past. He said he was proud that Labour had created Foundation Trusts who were freed from central control. There was no apology for the burden of PFI debt placed on the health economy and he believed it was a real achievement of the last government in opening up health to competition from the private sector.
Even during the Q&A session Healey failed to give any commitment to reversing the attacks on the NHS.
Delegates although polite throughout were clearly feeling uncomfortable about the future of the service if John Healey becomes secretary of state for health.
What is clear is, that if UNISON defeats the ConDem government’s plans for the NHS the next fight will be to convince Labour that there is no room for the free market in our NHS.