Lesley Mansell, Unite lead rep in the NHS, works in a PFI hospital and has seen first-hand the impacts of money being shifted from public to private hands.
Following the publication of the government’s Health and Care Bill, Mansell spoke on behalf of Unite, seconding composite 11 on public services.
“Unite is clear that this is the wrong prescription for the NHS,” she said.
“If passed it will mean more privatisation, more cuts and more cronyism,” she added.
Mansell stated that Labour must oppose it and that the NHS urgently needs more.
“Conference, I have never seen people work so hard – even before Covid,” she said.
Struggling to make ends meet
“Despite a lack of beds, staff and funding I have seen NHS staff deliver for patients – doing their best while at the same time struggling to make ends meet,” she said.
“We have members claiming Universal Credit, and reps supporting members with long Covid, stress and mental health issues,” she added.
Mansell stressed that it is not just nurses we are short of, but plumbers, electricians and caterers too.
“At our hospital we have already fought off a major privatisation deal that would impact on our lowest paid staff – many of them Black and Asian ethnic minority people,” she said.
“Yet after all of this they are made an insulting pay offer,” she added.
A decade of real cuts
“Conference, our members deserve the pay claim they have asked for, after a decade of real cuts and seeing us through a pandemic,” she said.
“They deserve – and we as a country need – a properly funded NHS so we can get the services we need,” she added.
Mansell expounded we can afford this with progressive taxation and investment, including cracking down on tax havens.
“I say again, Labour needs to oppose the Health and Care Bill because we need a publicly owned NHS with services brought back in house. Conference support this motion,” she said.