Unite leads campaign rally to oppose the Health and Care Bill

25 November 2021

MPs, campaigners and health workers came together near parliament on Monday evening (22 November), demanding that MPs oppose England's Health and Care Bill.

Unite is leading the campaign to oppose the bill (which on Monday night ending up having its social care cap amendment backed – albeit narrowly – in the House of Commons).  

The union is working alongside campaign organisations including Health Campaigns Together and the newly formed Your NHS Needs You with stars including Stephen Fry, Jo Brand, David Tennant, Vicky McClure, and Frankie Boyle.

Among the speakers at Monday’s rally were Dr Bob Gill of Your NHS Needs You, Tony O’Sullivan of Keep Our NHS Public, Dr Louise Irvine of Health Campaigns Together, Holly Turner of NHS Workers Say NO and Jacky Davis of the BMA Council.

A number of MPs also addressed the demonstration, including Grahame Morris, Margaret Greenwood, Barry Gardiner, Jeremy Corbyn, Imran Hussain, Richard Burgon, Dawn Butler, Zarah Sultana, John McDonnell and Apsana Begum.

Unite warns that the bill will be disastrous for the NHS and social care services, saying its provisions will slash funding, lead to increased cuts, more contracts awarded to private companies without scrutiny, and all at the expense of service levels.

The union also fears that without adequate protection of staff terms and conditions, the current staffing crisis will get worse.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: ‘Our members in the NHS and social care are coping with unacceptable conditions.
‘The Health and Care Bill is being used to further run down the NHS and to bring in more privatisation by the back door. It will also lay the path for lower standards of care and further attacks on the pay and conditions of NHS staff.

‘We will ramp up resources to defend our health sector members and oppose these unnecessary attacks.’

Jacalyn Williams, national officer for health at Unite added:  

‘Attempting to drive this through while we are still in the middle of a pandemic and without a care for patients, or staff already stretched beyond their limits, is a disgrace.

‘Unite is opposed to this NHS privatisation bill and is leading a serious and effective campaign to ensure it is stopped.

She said they are already ‘hundreds of thousands of signatures on petitions opposing the bill’.

In his Your NHS Needs You video, Stephen Fry had this to say: ‘I’ve seen what a nightmare healthcare is – if you can call it that – in America. A real nightmare! And the idea of that infecting our NHS is like the idea of a new pandemic, frankly.

‘That kind of infection would destroy and compromise the health service we’ve grown to depend on and love, and to be incredibly proud of. Research shows that American corporations are already embedding themselves in our NHS. And this is a really dangerous, and a very, very worrying turn of events.’

The Health and Care Bill is due to have its second reading in the House of Lords on 7 December. You can read more about the bill itself, its journey through parliament, and its current stage here.

The Unite campaign regarding the bill can be accessed here.

Image Credit | Mark Thomas