UNISON Northern Ireland

Happy 70th Birthday NHS

Today is a day first and foremost for celebrating - for marking a landmark birthday and emphasising  that the founding NHS principles remain just as relevant 70 years on.  Over the last 70 years the NHS has saved countless lives and been a powerful agent for social change.   

It is also a time to say thank you to the health and social care workforce past and present, who often work in difficult circumstances to deliver care for the public good. Everyone plays a part in making the delivery of services happen and everyone should have that contribution recognised.

We all know the provision of health and social care is under growing pressure.  We are convinced in our view that the universal health service, free at the point of need, taxation based and publically provided, must continue.

Our members are strong in their determination to work together and build secure foundations for the future.  They recognise that protecting and building our health and social care services as we move into the future will require genuine engagement with patients, service users, carers, the workforce, trade unions and the wider public in order to sustain community-wide support.  Our members are insisting that our health and social care services require sustainable funding  in order to improve the health of the public, eliminate health inequalities and meet the challenges of the future.  They are particularly concerned that social care for older people has been effectively privatised. 

Here in Northern Ireland there are 261 private nursing homes, 200 private residential homes and 320 domiciliary care agencies owned by entrepreneurs who largely view delivery of social care as a business opportunity.  Their delivery of social care is underpinned by minimum wages, zero hour contracts, 15 minute care calls and unrealistic rota demands on care workers. UNISON believes care for our older people is a social responsibility and is best delivered in a system sustained with adequate funding delivered by a direct workforce 

We owe it to future generations to ensure that the NHS ideals survive and prosper for the next 70 years. 

UNISON members across Northern Ireland will be meeting with our members in their workplaces celebrating the day and acknowledging their dedication to delivering health care.  With the agreement of employers, staff at Day Care Centres, Residential Homes, Nursing Homes, all Hospital sites will take the opportunity to mark the day with special activities.