UNISON delegates urged the TUC to call a national demonstration in defence of the NHS as conference heard of the “national scandal” in health and social care.
Conference backed calls for an integrated health and social-care model run by the public sector on the basis of need, not profit.
Jane Carolan from the national executive committee warned that the care sector is “not fit for purpose” as she told delegates that “we deserve to grow old in dignity and with respect.” But she warned: “You cannot have integration on the cheap.”
Ms Carolan said that the principle of integrated health and social care should mean “no more 15-minute vists, no more inappropriate hospital admissions and no more zero-hours contracts.
“Only trade unions can bring that about,” she told delegates.
George Binette from Camden local government branch spoke of the “contradiction between an NHS that, despite years of privatisation, remains free at the point of delivery and a social-care sector thoroughly privatised.”
He observed how, 25 years ago, 90 per cent of care homes were run by the local authority and explained that since then there had been a “profits bonanza” for private companies with “criminal” standards of care and poor terms and conditions.
Caution was advised over NHS England’s much criticised sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) — branded “slash, trash and privatise by London fire authority delegate Tony Philips — drawn up in secret and rejected by a growing number of local authorities.
Mr Philips said they were the vehicle to drive through a shocking “£22 billion of cuts” in the NHS.
Delegates vowed to step up the fight for the NHS and agreed to affiliate to Health Campaigns Together.