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09 September 2003

UNISON calls for an ethical health policy

Scotland's largest health care Union, UNISON has today called on the Scottish Executive to introduce an ethical health policy.

Speaking at a meeting of the Fabian Society in St Augustine's Church in Edinburgh, the Scottish Organiser for Health, Jim Devine said, "We need to move the debate on health away from hospitals and illness and on to prevention and healthy living."

In a wide ranging speech, Mr Devine will call for: The banning of smoking in public places

The introduction of a "fat tax"

A purchasing policy review

A ban on the sale of junk food in NHS hospitals and other buildings

The promotion of healthy eating for patients.

Jim Devine will say: "UNISON is keen to be radical and move the agenda on to address the real issues which promote healthy lifestyles. Two people die every hour of every day of every year as a result of smoking here in Scotland. And we will remain the heart attack capital of Europe if we don't address the problems of obesity. A tax on fatty foods is one way to do this".

Mr Devine will comment: "The NHS in Scotland spends approximately three-quarters of a billion pounds annually on supplies and drugs. One has to ask are we getting value for money when the drugs' bill is continually increasing well above the rate of inflation? The Scottish Executive should look at standardising the food purchasing policy, including the introduction of UNISON's Food for Good Charter*.

"Key to any purchasing policy review is ensuring companies providing services to the NHS maintain decent working practices that are conducive with the good working environment enjoyed by Scottish Health Service workers". On hospitals' nutrition and vending policies

Mr Devine will add: "It is patently absurd for the Scottish Executive to promote healthy living on the one hand and then allow private contractors to install vending machines which sell mainly junk food in NHS hospital on the other. In its healthy lifestyle campaign the Executive is encouraging people of to eat five portions of vegetables a day. This principle should apply to NHS patients too, ensuring good practice is promoted, not only in the public arena but in the NHS as well."

ENDS

Jim Devine, Scottish Organiser (Health) 0845 355 0845(w) 07876 441 239(m) UNISON's Food for Good Charter is available on the website: http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/nhs/chefs/charter.html

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