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It is the 'fog of reform' hanging over the health service which really threatens Labour's hopes of a fourth term in...
It is the 'fog of reform' hanging over the health service which really threatens Labour's hopes of a fourth term in government, Unison warned on the eve of TUC Congress in Brighton.

General secretary Dave Prentis stood side-by-side with Royal College of Midwives leader Karlene Davis to demonstrate their unprecedented solidarity in protesting at the crisis in the NHS.

Dismissing the past week's hysteria over the upcoming Labour leadership race, Dave Prentis declared: 'We need real debate over policy, real renewal in our party and a proper discussion on what will win us a fourth term. And we will only do that by providing world-class public services.'

He said the government needs 'to call time on competition and markets which are creating a crisis in the health service' and warned that the NHS is 'under threat in a very insidious way - from within - from the very party that created it'.

Unison is calling on the TUC to co-ordinate a major campaign including all health unions and, for the first time, non-TUC affiliated professional organisations to demand an end to the 'marketisation' of our health service.

And the union is also preparing to take the debate 'to the heart of the Labour Party conference' later this month.

Mr Prentis warned that 'it is not just the usual suspects' who are prepared to stand up and defend their NHS from endless reform and the growing influence of competition and private companies.

He pointed out that a demonstration in Stroud against the planned closure of the maternity unit had attracted 10,000 marchers. 'Local people - mothers with pushchairs - stopped their shopping and joined in,' he said.

Dame Karlene added that the public was being conned into believing that they are being offered 'choice' in the NHS and that decisions are made locally, when in fact the government holds the purse strings.

Joining the two general secretaries was Elaine Bass, a medical secretary and Unison member from Brighton and Sussex University Hospital NHS Trust. Her employers are proposing to axe 44% of medical secretaries and send patient notes to be typed up in South Africa in order to save money.

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