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Speak up, speak out, 3 June 2013

Frank Keogh HNISCBy Frank Keogh, Health National Industrial Sector Committee chair 

As a member of staff working in the NHS the past few years have been full of upheaval, change, attacks on services to our communities and a constant campaign carried throughout the media of savage attacks on everything the NHS stands for.

The Tory-led coalition has waged war on the NHS, its ethos and staff. They are hell bent on passing the buck for the on-going challenges the service faces from one set of NHS staff to another, from one sector of our community to another.

If we are to believe everything we see and hear in the mainstream media we are currently working in a NHS that is non caring and awash with over-rewarded staff who have no feelings towards the communities we serve. But as members of Unite working on the frontline, you and I know this is not the case. Day-in and day-out you and thousands like you strive to deliver safe, quality patient care. You chose to dedicate your working life to the NHS to ensure that our families our communities get access to safe quality services.

But in these austere times with £3 billion having being wasted on the biggest ever organisational change programme and the first wave of cuts to the NHS estimated at £20 billion taking a firm grip, we see that services are under threat and hospitals faced with closure. With thousands of front line staff not being replaced it is vital that we in Unite speak up and speak out.

We need to support staff to ensure they have the confidence to raise issues of patient safety and quality in their own workplace in the first instance but through the collective voice of the largest union in the UK and Ireland, Unite the union.

Our health sector continues to grow in strength and you can play your part in ensuring our voice gets louder and louder. If each and every one of us recruited one colleague in our workplace to join Unite the union, think how much more influential we would be within each workplace, so when staff speak up and speak out they are doing it safe in the knowledge that they have Unite standing shoulder to shoulder with them.

So my challenge to all Unite members working in the NHS is this, Tuesday 11 June has been declared by our NISC as a date to raise our voice in the workplace, do something to help one another to talk to colleagues where you work, share with them our vision, that of a trade union that stands up for patient safety and quality by ensuring NHS staff feel safe to speak up and speak out.