Policy conference delegates reaffirmed Unite’s commitment to saving the NHS from funding cuts and privatisation on the service’s 70th birthday.
First time speaker Moira Dawson, a nurse from the East Midlands, received a standing ovation from conference after delivering an impassioned speech about the need to bring the NHS back to health.
Calling for the nursing bursary to be reinstated and for an end to private finance initiatives, Dawson said, “As we celebrate its 70th birthday today, the NHS has proven itself to one of society’s greatest assets: Employed, unemployed, young or old, at times when we are at our most vulnerable, from cradle to grave.
“It must be restored to publicly-owned and democratically-run full prevention and treatment service. As an organisation, the NHS is in crisis: A crisis created by years of Tory underfunding and privatisation.”
London and Eastern’s Dr Liz Okokan paid tribute to those members of the Windrush generation who came to the UK to build the NHS.
Okokan spoke of how her grandfather from Barbados, who developed shell shock after serving in the First World War, met and married her grandmother after she nursed him back to health.
Subsequently the family moved to the UK, after her grandmother and mother answered the British government’s call for nurses after the Second World War.
Okokan said, “We now know more about the Windrush Generation of British citizens who left the colonies to build the NHS. I’m wearing my Windrush 70 badge with pride, as well as my Unite reps badge.”
Addressing conference about the crisis in social care, which is further burdening overstretched NHS services, retired member Douglas May spoke about running 22 marathons to raise money for a number health charities.
“I’ve run for the Heart Foundation, muscular dystrophy, Cancer Research, guide dogs for the blind and everything else that you can think of. The outcome of that is I’ll probably die of something totally unrelated (to the charities I’ve run for),” May said, eliciting laughs from the audience.
Delegates agreed motions on both the NHS and social care.