2018 – the year of the NHS

11 January 2018

Unite’s head of health Sarah Carpenter looks back at the key issues and campaigns of 2017, and ahead to a looming milestone in 2018.

NHS doctor assessing patient

A quick flick through the back issues of Community Practitioner reveals the huge variety of topics that the Rights at Work pages have covered during 2017. We have considered how to deal with the reorganisation of community services, workplace bullying, the findings of the staff survey, using the NMC code to raise concerns, the public sector pay cap (and pay itself) in the NHS, how to handle workload pressures, and job evaluation.

Alongside that, 2017 saw the CPHVA lobby parliament, a ramping up of the Love Your Health Visitor/Love Your School Nurse campaign, a snap general election, talk of industrial action over pay, and a feeling of anger at the CPHVA conference about political leaders’ treatment of staff and patients in the NHS. We also saw NHS leaders – including Simon Stevens, the head of NHS England – and chief executives speak out about the need for more money for the NHS.

So against the backdrop of 2017, we turn our minds to what 2018 has in store.


Next year and beyond

The NHS turns 70 on 5 July 2018. This milestone will come at a really difficult point in its history, as chronic underfunding, increased demand and staffing challenges combine to place huge strain on all those who need and work in the NHS.

Unite’s health sector will use the 70th birthday as a pretext to raise all of these issues, and to fight for the future of the NHS by celebrating it. With that in mind, 2018 has been designated the ‘Year of the NHS’ for Unite in Health.

Each health occupational group in the union has picked a month where it will focus on its own key historic and future issues. They will all produce materials and briefings that support this work. The CPHVA will use August to campaign on issues for all community practitioners, so there is plenty of time for members to get involved in this work.

The regional health committees will consider the resources produced nationally from all groups (including applied psychology in February, healthcare science in March, pharmacy in May, ambulance staff in June, the Medical Practitioners’ Union in July, speech therapy in September and mental health nursing in October), and a plan will be drawn up to celebrate and campaign throughout the year.

It’s true that lots of organisations – and the NHS itself – will be celebrating this big birthday, but Unite does it knowing that we are in the middle of a battle for our NHS. The service is on its knees, only being held together by the sheer bloody-mindedness of its staff who refuse to see patients suffer (often at the detriment of their own health). We want to see the NHS continue looking after us and our families for the next 70 years – and more. CP

If you want to be part of the Year of the NHS, let your rep or local regional officer know. Alternatively you can email sarah.carpenter@unitetheunion.org. And if you have any great ideas, please let Unite know!


Picture credit | Getty