Blog 5: #OurNHS is not for sale (02/05/17)

Blog five here. Now I’m up to blog five I think we can class this as a national institution – maybe not up there with Morecambe and Wise at Christmas, or Nora Batty’s stockings, but certainly on a par with long queues at bus stops, pot holes, phallic graffiti, and other defining, but annoying characteristics of our collective conscience.

The Leeds NHS March on the 1st April was a whopper – homemade placards, branch banners, whistles, and defiant speeches made for a celebratory and passionate demonstration. Hopefully the message will have got to those vultures within the Tory party that #OurNHS is not for sale ( there’s precious little left to sell anyway – I was even put up to tender last week, but was left in the auctioneers warehouse unsold – oh how I wept, surely somebody would have bid the required two groats for me).

So, onto a personal tale. Upon the march I was accompanied by my brothers and sisters from our Branch, the odd regional official (and they are odd) and also my little lad Freddie. Aged two and half and attending his first rally. Freddie started down Park Row with the determination of a degenerate on his way to Wetherspoons, he then scooted around Boar Lane merrily whistling, chanting and earnestly discussing the merits of nationalising the rail industry when suddenly his little legs began to wobble, Daddy proudly picked him up and we continued passed the markets merrily enjoying the day when….. He fell asleep on me !! What does a protester do with a recumbent toddler? What’s the protocol? What would Michael Foot have done? I found a bench and Freddie continued to throw out the zzz’s with the odd belch, and grunt. The initial wave of grumpiness that I was missing the march soon passed, I realised this was an opportunity. It gave me the chance to do something I’ve never done before – I watched a march without being in its throng. I saw them all. The old and the young, the unions, the campaigners, and the individuals. I saw the drummers, the ghouls dressed to represent the dying NHS, and the occasional buffoon who mistakenly thought we were on our way to Elland Road.

It was brilliant. To see five thousand people giving up their spare time to celebrate the NHS gave me such hope. The Torys with all their bluster and pocket filling greediness will never get that kind of support for anything. “What’s in it for me?” would be their measly mantra. “Let some other dude do it” would be their pitiful philosophy. So sat on that rusty bench, mopping my brow from the rain and Freddie’s sleepy sneezes, I had an epiphany, a re awakening if you will. I was proud to belong to these people, I was glad to be a part of this movement, and I am determined that along with you all, we will stick together and never allow those Torys to dismantle any more of the “greatest institution ever set up in the civilised world”. A living, sometimes chaotic, and lifesaving monument to what socialism can achieve.

The culture of “pop in for a little chat about your attendance” remains. UNISON members please remember that it is your absolute right to be invited to formal attendance management meeting via letter, and with five days’ notice. If your manager try’s to be (ahem) efficient with their time then politely decline and ask for your official letter.  If you pay your membership fees then please use us. It is much easier to be in a process with you from the start than been parachuted in when your attendance warrants a hearing and we have to unpick your sticky story. Plus you may get to meet me …. And give me a well-deserved clout for these spammy blogs. We always want to work alongside, and in partnership with trust management, but if they do try and fast track you with “friendly” five minute chats then make like a young Amy Winehouse and say no, no, no ( you sang that didn’t you).

…..speak soon xxx

(The views expressed here are not necessarily the views of the UNISON Leeds Teaching Hospitals Branch)