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Date: Fri 15 April 2011

UNISON health checks for ministerial candidates

Contenders for the position of Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing in the next Scottish Government will lay out their stalls at a major UNISON Scotland Health Conference in Glasgow today (Friday, 15 April).

Some 150 UNISON delegates from Orkney to Stranraer will quiz candidates on whether the National Health Service in Scotland will be safe in their hands.

Health is a key election issue for UNISON members working in NHS Scotland who rely on its services to support them and their families, as well as being a key public service which they help deliver 24/7, 365 days a year.

UNISON members will seek assurances from Scotland’s major parties that they will not proceed down the road of Westminster’s Andrew Lansley, who is proposing to open up the healthcare market to the private sector.

Tom Waterson, chair of UNISON Health Scotland, said: “NHS Scotland provides a quality service, with patient satisfaction levels measured at consistently high levels.

“Health outcomes and waiting times have improved since devolution. Scotland aims to be world class providers of health care, not to waste taxpayers’ money on the nonsense of an internal market which lines the pockets of shareholders and puts profit before patients.”

However, Scotland is not immune to the Lansley reforms. NHS Scotland, for example, utilises certain specialist services from south of the border which are either low volume or require rare skills.

UNISON members will tell the politicians that, in order for such services not to be subject to the market forces being promoted there, the Scottish Parliament should seek to repatriate these services to Scotland.

John Gallacher, regional organiser for UNISON, said: “A lot of the patients referred to NHS England could, and should, be treated in Scotland. The Scottish Parliament should take this opportunity to seek to encourage repatriation to Scotland of these services.”

UNISON’s local government members will also be putting ministerial candidates through their paces at a Local Government Hustings in Trades Hall, Glasgow.

Questions will be put to the panel surrounding some of the key issues identified in UNISON’s 2011 manifesto – For Public Services. The panel will include Michael McMahon (Labour), John Mason (SNP), Robert Brown (Lib Dem), Patrick Harvie (Greens) and David Meikle (Conservatives).


PHOTO/MEDIA OPPORTUNITY You are invited to send a reporter, photographer and/or crew to the local the Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow, from 12.30-1.30pm on Friday, April 15, for the UNISON Health Conference. The panel will include Jackie Baillie (Labour), Nicola Sturgeon (SNP), Ross Finnie (Lib Dem), Patrick Harvie (Greens) and Maurice Golden (Conservatives).