NHS being reduced to ‘just a brand’

By Ian Dunt

The NHS is being reduced to “just a brand” because of the government’s reform plans, a union leader will warn today.

The call comes a day after the government frantically tried to salvage its NHS reform plans following criticism from medical professionals and politicians.

David Cameron and Nick Clegg have hit the pause button on the bill’s progress for three months and decided to help sell the policy, after health secretary Andrew Lansley’s approach was branded too confrontational.

“To David Cameron, I say – start listening. We know what the bill means. We don’t need it explained,” Unison secretary general Dave Prentis will say at a speech in Liverpool later.

“The public understands what it means. It means the destruction of the NHS, and it’s no good just slowing down the bill – it should be stopped now.”

The speech will be delivered to over a thousand nurses, healthcare assistants, medical secretaries, therapists, porters, paramedic, cooks and cleaners at the health union’s conference.

“If Lansley gets his way – the NHS will change forever,” Mr Prentis will say.

“The NHS will turn it into a little more than a brand – a logo to be attached to buildings and services that could be run by anyone.

“Headlines like ‘Cameron signals retreat on NHS reforms’ and rumours that Lansley is for the chop shows the Conservatives are worried.

“Changing one Tory cheerleader for another won’t fool the public. It’s what’s said and done that counts – not who says or does it.”

The government is watering down the proposals in the bill in a bid to sidestep criticism, but some commentators believe that Mr Cameron may have already sacrificed his reputation with the NHS.