Thursday, 8 February 2007

Branch Meeting: NHS and Conference Resolution

Not the snappiest of titles but that about sums up tonights meeting. In reverse order of the items on the agenda, we talked about the resolution I submitted last week. This was inspired by some musings I had on constitutional issues not too long ago. In all essentials it boils down to noting a constitutional crisis is looking likely if the SNP gets a majority after the Scottish parliamentary elections. As this is a UK-wide issue it is likely to impinge on politics in England too, and is one the right (Tories, UKIP'ers) will seek to run with. What the resolution calls for is more development of our existing positions and publicity in party publications. A put forward a number of proposed changes to the resolution that were adopted unanimously, which in my opinion strengthen the overall position.

Before this it was the NHS. This came up because our branch has earned a ban from the University Hospital of North Staffordshire. Our heinous crime was to gather petition signatures against the cuts hospital management are ramming through, invite passers by to cast votes in our consultative ballot over a proposed 4-day week for central outpatients and of course, sell papers.

For reasons best known to themselves the letter they sent to us was also copied to Stoke's local rag, The Sentinel. Lo and behold, on page 7 of Tuesday's paper we have an article where Julia Bridgewater, the new chief executive hatchet-woman (and apparently, a practising a Christian) claims the measure is "for the protection of patients who are often distressed and vulnerable". How very touching. Perhaps she'd like to be reminded of these words next time she refuses to replace staff, cuts doctors and nurses' numbers and rents out capacity to patients who can afford to pay.

Another point that made my blood boil about this sorry piece is Pat Powell of UHNS Unison lining up with the bosses, for purely sectarian reasons. In all my years of activity I have never come across someone who's so wilfully taken it on themselves to sabotage and limit a campaign. She says (on the collection of money), "Unison is fully funding the campaign". I'm scratching my head here, because since last April's demo there has been *no* campaign in the hospital. I've spoken to dozens of workers and the answer is more or less the same - if there is a campaign going on, they know nothing about it.

Then there is this classic: "SOS [NHS Save Our Staff] has continued to put out false information and that could undermine our campaign to save jobs". This is a charge she's made before, and she doesn't make herself look any less stupid for repeating it. First, Powell has never bothered to point out where the information the campaign and the party uses is wrong. And second the local information both use for stall material ... comes from Pat Powell's pronouncements in The Sentinel! In effect, she's accusing herself of putting out misinformation! Not for the first time, eh Pat?

In response some comrades (including yours truly) have sent letters to the paper, some responding to developments, others to charges made in the article. Other actions are up our sleeves but I'll keep them close to my chest for now.


Phil said...

I forgot to ask, have others had similar wrecking/misleading/obstacle-placing experiences with union officials in anti-cuts NHS campaigns?

Anonymous said...

Well, of course we've had the usual denunciations, but our problem has been the timidity of the unions here, refusing to even speak at a public meeting or anything for fear of the sack. WE've done what we can to support them, including pushing a motion that suprisingly passed through the local council in support of workers striking to defend NHS services.
Oh, and we've had spies in the campaign too, so that some of the ideas we had to stop the decision going through were countered by the trust, but nothing like you've said.

ID, Huddersfield SP

Scott said...

Good look with your motion Phil, I've just read it, and it looks good.

I hope you will also be supporting Leicester and Coventry's motions.

P.S. If your going to congress, we should meet up for a chat. e.t.c. I'll e-mail my phone number on Monday.


Phil said...

Can't make it comrade, my interview schedule is too tight. A handful of other Stokies are attending as delegates, so it's down to them to put the dukes up for the resolution :(