“If you care for the NHS, then vote for it” – Dave Prentis

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis. Image courtesy UNISON

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis. Image courtesy UNISON

“If you care for the NHS, then vote for it,” Dave Prentis told a packed Save Our NHS rally in Yorkshire at the weekend.

The UNISON general secretary spoke at a packed Leeds Town Hall to an audience of trade unionists, health workers and Labour supporters at the rally organised by UNISON together.

The rally also heard from Labour leader Ed Miliband, shadow health secretary Andy Burnham and veteran NHS campaigner Harry Leslie Smith.

In an impassioned speech, Mr Prentis recalled his own experiences of the NHS when he had stomach cancer 15 years ago.

“Like many of you or your families, the NHS saved my life” he told the crowd. “The care I received was absolutely brilliant.”

But “the NHS is now in crisis. David Cameron said the NHS was safe in his hands, but in the last few weeks Iory mismanagement of the NHS has reached a new low, with A&E waits at their worst level for a decade.”

The UNISON general secretary cited figures from Leeds: “Since 2010, nearly 50,000 people have waited longer than four hours in A&E at Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust.

“There are more than 10,000 people on NHS waiting lists at the trust and in the last year more than 450 people have waited longer than two months to start their cancer treatment there.

“None of this is the fault of the staff or the NHS as a whole. Instead, it’s a system tied up in knots by botched reorganisations, struggling on with insufficient funding and distracted by the waste of enforced competition.”

In an electric atmoshpere, Mr Prentis ended the rally with a clarion call.

“The last five years have shown that the NHS is not safe in Tory hands,” he declared. “Only a change of government will protect it.”

He reminded the crowd: “Others over the years have fought for the NHS, defended it – now is the time for us to do the same. If you care for the NHS, then vote for it. And if you care for it – vote Labour!”