For Immediate Release Date: 14 January 2009
UNISON, Scotland’s largest health care trade union representing over 50,000 members working in health related services, is urging the Scottish Parliament to back direct elections to health boards, when they consider the Health Boards (Membership and Elections) (Scotland) Bill at Stage one on Thursday 15 January 2009.
UNISON Scotland fully supports the principles of this Bill, which was a commitment in both the Scottish Labour and SNP manifestos for the 2007 election.
Dave Watson, UNISON’s Scottish Organiser said:
"We call on MSPs to support this Bill in principle – so we can move to a long overdue change of culture in health boards, from an attitude of' we know best' to one of openness and consultation.
"The proposed mix of elections and appointment of members will provide greater democratic accountability, while retaining staff and specialist expertise.
“Members of the public have consistently indicated, via public campaigns and by voting for health campaigners in local and Scottish elections, that they want to be part of the process of planning local health care. It is time that real democratic engagement allowed that to happen."
UNISON believes that there are some failings in the current Bill, but that it should be supported in principle so that issues can be addressed in further discussion.
Dave added: "Direct elections won’t on their own improve public confidence in the NHS, but along with health board moves to properly engage with the public at all levels, they should produce a step change in culture.
"We hope MSPs will give the Bill their full support."
For Further Information Please Contact:
Dave Watson (Scottish Organiser) 07958 122 409(m)
Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 07715 583 729 (m)