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Darzi could herald new chapter for NHS, says Unite

The government's 10-year blueprint for the health service announced on Monday could open a new positive chapter on the eve of the NHS's 60th birthday.

Unite welcomed the broad thrust of health minister Lord Darzi's review, hailed by the Prime Minister as "a once-in-a generation opportunity".

Unite National Officer for Heath, Karen Reay said: "We welcome the general tenor of Lord Darzi's report that the future emphasis should be on the whole patient/client experience in the NHS - from the quality of the consultants' care to the standard of the food - rather than the crude managerial targets of recent times.

"We look forward to working together with government and NHS employers to make this strategy a living and vibrant reality for hundreds of thousands of patients and clients that use the NHS on a daily basis.

"We have a commitment for the first time that there will be measurements of the quality of peoples' experience in the NHS; that the concept of transparency in decision-making for patients' treatment will be paramount; and that collective accountability, where teams are shown to be delivering quality services, are to the fore.

"The new constitution for the NHS, which is out for three months consultation, is a milestone, reinforcing the patients' rights to dignity, privacy and confidentiality. The constitution will also embrace staff, enshrining respect and dignity for them in the workplace.

"We welcome the extra responsibility that staff will be given to run their own social enterprise organisations. We would like to see such organisations firmly under the NHS umbrella and the conditions of staff, particularly in relation to their pension arrangements, fully protected.

"One of the key factors in making the Darzi proposals work will be the need for fully funded comprehensive training programmes for all staff. We have sought assurances that training will be a high priority in the future."