Unite delegate Joyce Still has worked in the NHS for 40 years. On Tuesday (September 28) she addressed Labour Party conference speaking on the Health and Social Care debate.
“I’m a trained nurse and midwife. My last job was as a health visitor in a Sure Start children’s centre,” she said.
“I have been a worker, a trade unionist and, over the past year, I have seen the NHS through the eyes of a patient, which has given me another perspective,” she added.
Still told conference how she has seen first-hand exactly how vital frontline services are being decimated by the government.
“I’ve seen what that means for the most vulnerable and the heavy toll it takes on our NHS workers,” she said.
“Before the pandemic we faced continual cuts, a lack of resources, privatisation and overwork,” she added.
“If our NHS stood at the brink before the pandemic, it has now been pushed over the edge. Not only by Covid, but by Tory mismanagement,” she said.
Still told conference that now is the time for action and NHS workers are leading the way.
“Look to the biomedical scientists of Royal Blackburn Hospital, currently in their eighteenth week of strike action and standing firm,” she said.
“Their work has been vital during the pandemic – and now they’re forced to fight for the pay withheld from them by management,” she added.
Still proudly declared that Unite stands with these workers — just as Unite stands with every frontline NHS worker balloting for a proper pay rise.
“It cannot be right that frontline NHS workers have seen their pay fall by 19 per cent in real terms because of Tory austerity – despite risking their lives to save ours,” she said.
Courage of its convictions
“Conference, our Party must have the courage of its convictions,” she said.
Still set out what must be done to save our NHS.
“We must stand with NHS workers demanding fair pay. We must pledge to bring services back in house and we must pledge to win vital funding for frontline services,” she said.
“Conference, our Party built the NHS. Now it’s our task to help save it,” she added.
By Jody Whitehill
Pic by Mark Thomas