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25 Nov 2004

UNISON's response to the comments of the Scottish Minister for Health

Private healthcare as a magic wand to resolve the problems of the NHS would make matters worse

UNISON Scotland's main Healthcare union today warned that to pursue private healthcare as a magic wand to resolve the problems of the NHS would make matters worse, by creating a two-tier service and setting up competition for scarce resources.

Matt Smith, UNISON's Scottish Secretary said "We are surprised and concerned at the comments coming from the Scottish Executive, given their previous commitment to a public health service in Scotland. The problem with the NHS is not lack of competition, but lack of capacity. Centralisation and closure of hospitals; problems with NHS24; and even waiting lists are caused by not having enough doctors, nurses and other health professionals. Yet year on year we are turning prospective trainees away from our universities and colleges.

"To increase the ability of the private sector to poach more professionals from the NHS by handing them fat government contracts, will increase - not resolve - that problem.

"Competiton has already failed the NHS once in the 1980's. What we now need is positive proposals totrain and retain the staff we need to deliver our healthcare."


For Further Information Please Contact: Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0845 355 0845(w) 0771 558 3729(m)