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Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 September 2006, 15:30 GMT 16:30 UK
Labour defeated over health plans
The NHS has been one of the government's key priorities
The government has been defeated over its plans for the NHS at the Labour Party conference.

Delegates voted in favour of a Unison motion calling for a slow down in the pace of reform and condemning the privatisation of the health service.

It comes on the day health workers at NHS Logistics are on strike over plans to sell-off the supply agency to DHL.

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis told the Manchester audience ministers must get the mess "sorted out".

Proposing the motion attacking the "breakneck speed of reform", Mr Prentis said: "Leave the privatisation and failing markets to the Tories.

"Set that clear red line between us and the Tories. This is their agenda not ours.

"If you believe the NHS is that jewel. We need to protect it."

In his speech, he attacked plans to privatise NHS Logistics and also the policy of reconfigurations which could lead to major hospitals being stripped of key services such as A&E to provide more care in the community.

But he was cut short before completing his motion - as he had exceeded the five-minute limit - to heckles from the conference hall, which included NHS staff waving placards saying "Save Our NHS".

The motion called on the government to "rethink the headlong rush to a competitive system".

It warned: "Immense damage is being done to some local services because of deficits and the breakneck speed of change".

He was support by a number of speakers.

David Williams, a delegate from Selly Oak, said: "I didn't join this party to see this privatisation programme. I joined this party to defend the health service.

"What we are seeing here is a process of losing support and losing votes among the very people that we look to for support in election after election."

Sharon Holder, of the GMB, said NHS staff were "alienated" by health reforms.

"They are fed up with competition, fed up with PFI, fed up with privatisation."

But a few speakers supported the government's record on the NHS, praising the investment.

Kent GP Dr Rav Seeruthun said there was an ideological argument about private sector involvement in the NHS - but this should not mean that patients had to wait months for an operation.

"Imagine if it was your mother or your child what would you do?"

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