The National Health Service is a beacon to the world
Welsh Ambulance driver Angie Roberts addressed a recent NHS70 rally in Abergavenny on behalf of UNISON Cymru Wales. She’s also a branch secretary and National Executive Committee member of the trade union. This is an extract of what she had to say.
I’m proud of our NHS and proud of the movement and the party that built it. It is the greatest example of socialism in action, of what can be achieved by bold, brave socialist government. An institution that was created in the ruins of a country after World War II. The whole nation sought to get back on their feet, yet even then it was possible to build something great.
An NHS with strong welsh roots brought to life by Aneurin Bevan and sustained through each generation since by Welsh men and women who as Bevan said, had the faith left to fight for it.
I feel pride in our NHS every time I put my uniform on to go to work, I feel pride in our NHS every time my colleagues save a life or just when we offer a helping hand, I feel pride in our NHS and in our party when I see how loved the NHS still is.
Obviously, things are not as we would like them to be — funding is restricted by the Westminster government which has a direct effect on what the NHS in Wales can deliver.
It is a real political choice by the current UK government to give contracts to run hospitals and health services to companies like Virgin. The profit motive has no place in the healthcare of our people. In England, we are seeing the break-up of a centralised NHS service with increasing privatisation and the handing of parts of our NHS over to the private sector — as has happened in Gloucester, which is not that far away!
We cannot allow that to happen in Wales.
We in UNISON are dedicated to do all we can to safeguard the future of the NHS and for investment in healthcare staff and their protection in the workplace.
People working in the health service do a fantastic job in often difficult circumstances. Quite often dealing with vulnerable, emotional patients and family members.
UNISON has members across all the jobs in the NHS from nurses to housekeeping staff to estates and porters. All of these jobs have their own stresses and strains, and all the people doing this work have the patient at the centre of their work.
UNISON has been told on many occasions by Carwyn Jones, the First Minister in Wales that the NHS will not be privatised or broken-up. We will be expecting the same commitment from his successor.
Today is about celebration — 70 years of healthcare for all the citizens of the UK regardless of income or status. We must fight for what matters and make sure we pass on to our children a health service they can be proud of too.