UNITE the Union Opposes STP’s in Leicester: But Will UNITE Councillors Join Them in Defending Our NHS?

Evidence presented by Unite the Union on the destructive nature of the so-called “Sustainability and Transformation Plan” (STP) at the most recent meeting of Leicester’s Health and Wellbeing Scrutiny Commission (on March 29) backed-up recent public statements made by the meetings’ chairperson, Assistant Mayor Vi Dempster. I say this because earlier in the month Councillor Dempster noted how the STP was drivel and should be binned. On this statement of fact, I couldn’t agree more!

So at the most recent Scrutiny Commission meeting, information presented by Leicestershire Unite Health Sector Branch (EM/LE32) observed that…

we are deeply concerned that many of the [STP] proposals are not backed up by evidence, that the targets around cost savings will put patients and vulnerable members of our communities at risk and our members will be exposed to impossible workload pressures and potentially blamed when things go wrong.”

Unite were clear: “Financially, the STPs are set up to fail.” They explained:

“In the presentation to Trade Union Reps in December 2016 the proposal that £288 million will need to come from ‘operational efficiencies’ was discussed. The workforce is Health and Social Care’s greatest expense (and greatest asset). We are seriously concerned that the STP will be funded by large-scale pay cuts and down-banding. The impact of this will be a ‘brain drain’ as more experienced staff lose pay, status, job satisfaction and professional autonomy and opt for early retirement. Some of our members have already taken that decision.”

Unite STP

The local community branch of Unite the Union were even firmer in their rejection of the STP process, which they observed have “been developed in secret.” “It is an undemocratic plan,” they pointed out, “and so far as we can see does not even have a legal basis.”

Standing in broad agreement with many other health campaigners across the country, Unite noted: “The Plan includes many cuts to services and reflects underfunding in the health service. £22bn of cuts are being pushed through across the NHS, using STPs to force the cuts through,” hence they called upon Leicester’s Labour-led Council “to oppose it.” Reiterating this simple point they concluded:

“Overall, the STP looks like little more than a cost cutting exercise. It will make our health services worse because the government is not funding the health service and social care properly. We expect the city council to defend our services and not to go along with this latest attempt to destroy our health service. The Government does not support the NHS and in our view is trying to privatise it. A Labour council must play its part in opposing these privatising and cost-cutting policies. The government want the health service to become so bad that people who can afford it will go private. Everybody else will get a worse service.”

With such serious criticisms of the STP having been raised by both Unite and by Councillor Vi Dempster, I — along with many interested observers — will look forward to hearing the whether all the city councillors who are also proud members of Unite the Union will now be publicly opposing the entire debacle that are the STP’s.

For the record, present Labour city councillors who are presently members of Unite the Union (as listed on their official “register of interests”) are:

  1. Councillor Deepak Bajaj
  2. Councillor Harshad Bhavsar
  3. Councillor Diane Cank
  4. Councillor Lucy Chaplin
  5. Councillor Piara Singh Clair MBE
  6. Councillor Elly Cutkelvin
  7. Councillor Mustafa Malik
  8. Councillor Abdul Razak Osman
  9. Councillor Rory Palmer
  10. Councillor Hemant Rae Bhatia
  11. Councillor Kulwinder Singh Johal
  12. Sir Peter Soulsby
  13. Councillor Susan Waddington
  14. Councillor Paul Westley
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