Unite members have staged a series of actions up and down the country as part of the union’s NHS day of action on 26 February, which it is holding with SOS:NHS. Members of Unite’s Community section, along with activists in Unite in Health, which represents over 100,000 health service workers, held stalls in high streets and outside hospitals across the country. Here in Bridgwater members if UNITE were joined by Labour Party members and others on the Cornhill to talk to locals and to encourage voters to tell Bridgwater & West Somerset MP Ian Lidell-Grainger to oppose further privatisation of our NHS by the Health and Care Bill.
In Bridgwater, Ian Lidell-Grainger is among the Tory MPs who voted in favour of the Bill last November. Unite members handed out postcards and leaflets carrying their message to him.
Unite, along with NHS campaign groups including SOS:NHS and Your NHS Needs You, believes the Health and Care Bill, which is being debated again in parliament on 28 February, will be a disaster for healthcare services, resulting in further privatisation and cuts and reduced patient access to treatments.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “While our members and their families in England are being told to expect NHS waiting lists to rise for years to come, the government’s priority is to pave the way for further disastrous privatisation. Every time private companies run NHS services they put profits before patients who pay the price. So these Tory MPs ought to put their constituents before their private sector mates and vote to junk the Bill. Of course, it is unlikely they will, and Unite will have to continue to fight these big corporate money moves step by step inside the NHS.
NHS is under Threat
Somerset UNITE Community organiser and Labour Bridgwater Town Councillor Glen Burrows said “Our NHS is under threat and time is running out. The Health and Care Bill will cut medical and emergency services, force more people to pay for their health care and let more private companies take over services and make decisions on budgets. That is why we’re out on the streets today, highlighting the tsunami of attacks our health service is facing and asking local people to tell their MPs they must vote against the Health and Care Bill to save our NHS.”
Labour Party and UNITE member Richard Morgan added “‘The NHS is a wonderful thing, and we should do everything in our power to protect it from government cuts and from exploitation by private companies who do not have the public’s best interests at heart.’
Healthcare worker Elaine Di Campo adds “ The NHS is the backbone of our country’s Health and Welfare. We have already seen too many suffer and die unnecessarily due to the on going cuts. Show some decency and compassion for the millions of people who won’t be able to use a chargeable service. The poorest and most vulnerable. Shame on you!”
Retired UNITE member Barry Leathwood said “‘Constant restructuring and creeping privatisation of the NHS will do nothing to improve healthcare in the UK. What is needed is a massive injection of funds to replace what has been lost as a result of Tory government cuts over the last 12 years, coupled with a determination to invest in the training of nurses, doctors and other medical staff and an end to outsourcing clinical procedures.”
Health service campaigner Emma King added “As someone who has spent the last 18 months campaigning to save our local adult mental health ward in Wells, St Andrew’s, from closure and relocation, many people have spoken to me about their struggles with their own mental health issues. It is abundantly clear that the ravages wrought upon NHS mental health care over the last 12 years have left many people inadequately supported and this can only lead to suicide and ruined lives. These are services we have all paid for and we deserve the care we need in accessible locations, not ill-thought out, arbitrary plans which end up further penalising the most vulnerable in our community. Please sign the petition against this closure: here.”
Pictures of the Bridgwater NHS Protest