Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Extend in-house pledges to community health centres - UNISON comments on private GP surgery ban

Press release: Weds 22 October 2008

UNISON, Scotland's healthcare union today welcomed the Scottish Government's announcement that commercial firms are to be banned from running GP surgeries, but called for this to be extended to other community health facilities like health centres.

The union also condemned the criticisms of the CBI and Tories, as trying to return to the privatising agenda of the Thatcher government.

John Gallacher, Secretary of UNISON's Scottish Health Group, said "We entirely agree with the plans to ban commercial companies from seeking a profit from our healthcare, and the announcement stopping outsourcing of cleaning and catering in the NHS. We call on the government to take the logical next step, and withdraw the Scottish Futures Trust proposals, which not only seeks to extend PFI and PPP, but also introduces a model (called a 'Hub') that allows private firms to run health centres and similar community-based health facilities."

Dave Watson, UNISON's Scottish Organiser said "Whilst this may mean a traditional practice might operate within a privatised hub, we would ask the Government how the running of a privatised health centre would be by anyone other than private employees?"

The union strongly attacked the statements from the CBI and the Tories. Dave Watson said "At a time when the flaws of the world's private businesses are being laid out for all to see, it is deeply worrying that the Tories and the CBI want to expose our public services to these same risks. The glorification of the market economy so loved by Mrs Thatcher, led to the current economic crisis - the last thing we need is to hand over our public services to the same failed system."

Notice for editors:
The Strategic Business case published for the Scottish Futures Trust proposes that it should promote full blown PPP in a number of ways, including the hub initiative, based on English Local Improvement Finance Trust (LIFT) PPPs to build new local health centre premises and other community facilities.