I attended the LAS ‘Celebration of Service’ Ceremony in Westminster on Tuesday night. Twenty five members of staff from across the Service were being recognised for twenty years of NHS service with either a medal or medallion.Â
Seven furtherÂ staff who had recently retiredÂ were there to receive thanks and awards for the service that they had given. Families and friends were also present.
It was a great night. It was also a moving night with memories and recollections being spoken about.
We have great people, past and present, who areÂ partÂ of our Service, but we forget sometimes to remind ourselves of that, as we get bogged down with the day to day issues of work.
We, as a Service, are second to none when it comes to this type of ceremony. Other Services may have similar, but none, not one of them, comes anywhere close. Our staff that organise and work at these events get my admiration.
It would be remiss of me not to plug Unison at this stage as weÂ played a major hand in the history of this.
Soon after the infamous computer crash inÂ 1992 I went in to meet Martin Gorham (the newÂ Chief Ambulance Officer sent in by the Department of Health to oversee the recovery) andÂ requested, among other things,Â that he bring back all the staff who hadÂ gone (mainly on medical grounds due to stress) under the previous, disastrous regime, and give them a proper send off and thanks.
These were mainly, but not all, EOC staff (CAC as it was) who in our opinion had been bullied, harassed and made ill by the computerÂ problems and the Chief Ambulance Officer’s style of management. Lots of good managers were also driven to the brink, (brink – not drink!). Although…!
We discovered then that lots of retired members of staff had not been brought back and thanked, going back years. They had been forgotten in the mad, unstructured,Â stampede for change.Â Martin Gorham, with our help,Â put that rightÂ and we, with lots of help from other people, traced as many ex members of staff as we could. From little acorns….
Â It was right to do that then, and it is right to do that now.
I am attending the Trades Union Congress (TUC) in Manchester next week. This is theÂ first Congress held under a Conservative government (the ‘Coalition’ notwithstanding) for more than 13 years!
ItÂ will be anÂ important Congress and in some ways a defining moment for the Trade Union movement. The Trade Unions, particularly in the Public Sector, will be agreeing how to respond to the new government’s ideologically driven austerity budget and policies.
Â We have to dispel the myth created by them thatÂ our country’s economic problems are the fault of the public services and public service staff. We are all being lined up as scapegoats as the real culprits: the banks, the speculators, the privateers and the opportunists are rubbing their hands with glee as they urge the Coalition government on.
There are motions at the TUC, led and supported by Unison, concerning the defence of public services. The passing and adoptingÂ of these is key to our response.
There is one (Motion 48) that is about the NHS. It makes a very important point about the false distinction between ‘front line’ and ‘non-front line’ jobs.
The question has got to be asked, and we within the LAS should ask it as well (always): where does the front line end, and the non-front line begin? Put another way: how far back does the front line go, and how far forward does the non-front line extend?
Doesn’t everyone who works within the LAS, an emergency public service, work on the front line, but doing different jobs?
The London Ambulance Unison Branch extends our condolences and sympathy to the family and friends of Andy Zucconi.
Andy was a senior GMB representative and convenor who was based at Deptford for many years. Andy died suddenly at the weekend aged 67.
Those of us within Unison who knew and worked with Andy will always have great respect for him. He was well liked and will be fondly remembered by many people, as his retirement function, which was bursting at the seams, is a testimony to.
He wasÂ in a different union but Andy, more than most, always worked closely and honestly with Unison.
Myself and our Branch Chair, Eddie Brand,Â will be at the funeral on behalf of Unison.