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  • Pat Heron

Last morning of UNISON Health Conference 2022

Wednesday was the third session of Health conference. It was opened by chair, Roz Norman with a moving tribute to International Workers Memorial Day paying tribute to all our members we had lost or been injured while carrying out their work duties, also for all workers across the world at a time when our Health & safety Laws are being attacked.


This was followed by Clare Williams doing a presentation on’ The Member Engagement Project’’ this is about going to regions to open up a discussion regarding how the union functions for the members and activists within the union to ensure we are moving forward on having the best Public Health Service in the country on how we engage and encourage our members at grassroots level to look at how our union is and reviewing what is good about us, how do we improve in areas where we know that members are not engaged with us how do we make it fit for purpose moving on in 21st century and to do this we must listen to our membership


We then returned to conference and motions


Defending the NHS and Protecting and Improving health and Care Service


Motion 33 Campaigning against Toxic NHS PFI legacies

Motion 34 Ensuring our Public Health services are fit for Purpose in a Post Pandemic Future


We listened to how the failing of this government has seen how the very foundations of NHS has been attacked by the drive to continue privatisation of the NHS by cuts to budgets, reduction of staff to the very services that would be turned to deal with the public health crisis that put us all into lockdown

Due to the fact that trusts were facing bills up to 80bn due to toxic PFI legacy money that should have been used for our patients services, understaffing ,down grading health and safety issue to name a few, call to end this use of Public money and resource for the accountability of these organisation


Motion 35 Ambulance and Hospital Pressures


Moving speeches from our ambulances services about the immense pressures on their services pre Covid that reached crisis levels during the pandemic as the cutting to ambulance stations and the staffing combined with the over crowding of the wards lead to emergency departments from moving patients on, plus ambulances were unable to handover their patients to these services so waiting in queues for hours so stretching ambulances services and their staff due to the previous government pre Covid deciding to close majority of District and Cottage hospitals under the banner of by doing this it would pay towards “ Community Care Programme”. This motion asked for us to campaign for return of these services so enabling NHS emergency services and the ambulance services to return to high standard and response to public they serve and so leading to return of the health and well being of staff delivering service and patients they care for


Motion 36 Reserve Pool of Staff


This motion called for the return to use of what once was a norm across the NHS a pool of staff who could work across al the services when staffing shortages and them being retained on permanent contracts so enabling the pressure on recruitment and retention shortages that majority of NHS is facing and adopting modern working practices


All of these motions were carried


So we reach last motions to be debated


Calling for a Fair and Just Culture in the NHS


Motion 37 Whistleblowing in the Private Sector

The speakers spoke of how the Freedom to Speak Up polices and Guardians in NHS had been positive steps and this should be reflected in the private sector and to look to this being done and monitored by Clinical Governance groups /integrated Care Groups etc they maybe privately owned and run and funded by the public sector should be open to scrutiny The speakers on this motion spoke of horror stories that these employers are being enabled to do from bad practices being dismissed when staff raise concerns, lack of H&S even though they have legal obligations, bullying and harassment practices that need robust whistleblowing procedures to protect staff who raise concerns. For them to be paid and valued at a decent level alongside their NHS counterparts. It was hard listening for the conference floor the stories they had to tell


Motion 38 Just and Restorative culture ,a wolf in sheep’s clothing


This motion was left for the conference floor to make the decision the Service group felt this was the right way to allow the debate, there was a long line of for and against speakers on this motion and each side spoke with such conviction that you could move from one conclusion to the other, surprisingly not only the employer but Unison branches had already adopted just culture platform on paper, we heard of how this could be used in a negative way against the staff so asking of Unison to review the Just Culture and its position and to ensure its not used in Bullying & harassment cases this motion was carried by the conference floor


Motion 39 End Nepotism in NHS /Amendment 39.1


This motion again attracted lots of speakers in the for seats and again we listened to not only how family members were favoured for job roles and promotion but also cliques where not taken on value of how you do your job but to who you know, this has been seen of senior posts using the retire /return avenue to come back into roles just developed for them but this occurs at all levels within the systems and leads to barriers of having a diverse and equal workforce, so we need to strive to ensure equality proofed practices are embedded in NHS services


All these motions were passed


A vote of thanks was given by Sue Highton from Yorkshire and Humberside to the chairs team and we now had reached the close of conference where Roz Norman thank everyone but especially our activists and members


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