It was standing room only at a packed rally to celebrate the NHS’s 65th Birthday in Manchester Town Hall on Friday 5th July. A fitting end to a week of celebration and campaigning, UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis joined a panel of speakers including NHS staff, Debbie Abrahams MP and trade unionists to assert the need to defend our National Health Service.
Condemning the cuts imposed on the NHS by the coalition Government, he told campaigners that UNISON would stand up for NHS staff and services:
This is all at a time when demand on the NHS is increasing – there are more patients, more costly drugs and therapies and an increasingly ageing population, with complex medical needs.
And patients must come before profits, with taxpayers’ money being spent on improving care, not going to enrich the shareholders of private healthcare companies or on employing expensive and unnecessary management consultants.
At Unison’s own conference a couple of weeks ago I called on the TUC to organise a mass rally in support of the NHS at the Conservative Party Conference.
We are already mobilising branches for the lobby in Manchester on September 29.
We will be taking our message to the heart of the Tory Party that they mess with the NHS at their peril.”
Emphasising the need for a repeal of the damaging Health and Social Care Act which has accellerated privatisation and marketisation within the health service, he said that Labour must be steadfast in its commitment to repeal the act if elected to power, paraphrasing the words of NHS founder Aneurin Bevan:
“Bevan once said that the problem with those who stick to the ‘middle of the road’ is this – they get run over. I’m concerned that Labour currently seem to be sticking to the middle of the road.”
Debbie Abrahams MP said a future Labour Government would repeal the Government’s health reforms, but stated that it may need to work with ‘existing structures’ brought in since 2010 to avoid ‘another top-down reorganisation’.
UNISON North West has been hosting celebrations this week across our region, at NHS workplaces from Chester to Carlisle. Below are some of the best photographs from events throughout the North West.