Great expectations: this month's annual professional conference in Southport will be an opportunity for members to influence debate about the future of the NHS.
Article Type: Conference notes
Subject: Trade and professional associations (Conferences, meetings and seminars)
Labor unions (United Kingdom)
Labor unions (Conferences, meetings and seminars)
Registered nurses (Conferences, meetings and seminars)
Author: Reay, Karen
Pub Date: 10/01/2009
Publication: Name: Community Practitioner Publisher: Ten Alps Publishing Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health; Health care industry Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2009 Ten Alps Publishing ISSN: 1462-2815
Issue: Date: Oct, 2009 Source Volume: 82 Source Issue: 10
Topic: Event Code: 280 Personnel administration Canadian Subject Form: Labour unions; Labour unions Computer Subject: Company personnel management
Product: Product Code: 8620000 Professional Membership Assns; 8630000 Labor Unions; 8043110 Nurses, Registered NAICS Code: 81392 Professional Organizations; 81393 Labor Unions and Similar Labor Organizations; 621399 Offices of All Other Miscellaneous Health Practitioners SIC Code: 8621 Professional organizations; 8631 Labor organizations
Organization: Government Agency: United Kingdom. National Health Service; United Kingdom. National Health Service
Geographic: Geographic Scope: United Kingdom Geographic Code: 4EUUK United Kingdom
Accession Number: 209163227

There will be a strong gust of US politics blowing off the Irish Sea as delegates gather for the Unite/CPHVA conference in Southport later this month.

The harsh and unsparing criticisms of Barack Obama's plans to provide a safety net for the estimated 46 million Americans without health insurance will focus delegates' minds on the great benefits that the NHS has provided, free of charge, since its foundation in 1948.

The US health insurance companies that are attacking Obama would like to gain more than the toe-hold that they have already established in the UK--they are looking to take over large and lucrative sections of the NHS in the interests of their shareholders.

This is why what is happening in the US--and I know many of you will be disgusted by some of the attacks on the NHS as 'socialised medicine'--has increasing resonance here. Unfortunately, others such as Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan endorse these right-wing US views.

It was to halt and defeat the forces of NHS privatisation that Unite launched its Health B4 Profit campaign earlier this year. Delegates will be able to make their feelings known as for the first time, two cabinet ministers--health secretary Andy Burnham and children's secretary Ed Balls --will be addressing the annual professional conference (see pages 32 and 33).

The appearance of these two political 'big hitters' is a tribute to a number of factors:

* The incessant campaigning on health visitor and school nurses numbers

* That Unite is the largest trade union in the country, with the influence to match

* That community nursing has seeped deeply into the national consciousness, particularly in the wake of the tragic 'Baby P' case.

And Unite has been positive in offering solutions--we have not simply sat there and wrung our collective hands.

We know the mounting workloads and increasing stress that members experience. In our evidence to the Commission on the Future of Nursing and Midwifery, we recommended 'fast-track' entry to health visiting, reducing the nurse training component so that mature applicants and those with other degrees would be attracted. Unite has strongly suggested that trusts stop treating school nursing as a part-time 'Cinderella' service, but promote it as the occupational health service for our young people, encouraging commitment from men and women who want to deliver improved health outcomes for the next generation.

However, our blueprint for the future can only happen within a unified, non-privatised NHS, free at the point of delivery for all those in need. And that is why what is happening to Obama's proposals across the Atlantic will have an impact on health policy here, which is where we came in...

Karen Reay

Unite national officer for health
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