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7 November 2012
Junior health minister, Dr Dan Poulter was today accused of snubbing health visitors and community nurses by making a speech of about five minutes at their annual conference in Brighton to celebrate 150 years of the health visiting profession.
Unite, the largest union in the country, which embraces the Community Practitioners' and Health Visitors' Association (CPHVA), said that the minister was rushing back to London to take part in a Commons debate on the future of the NHS Agenda for Change national pay agreement.
Dr Poulter, the parliamentary under secretary of state at the Department of Health, claimed that his train had been delayed on the way to Brighton as he left the stage to heckling and slow hand claps from delegates.
Unite general secretary, Len McCluskey, who had arrived on time from London to make his speech, said: “Dan Poulter has treated the delegates with contempt by making a very brief speech which said nothing to allay their concerns about the future of the NHS which is currently being privatised for the benefit of private healthcare companies.
“This was a very special conference for Unite/ CPHVA members, who are celebrating the 150 years since the origins of the modern health visiting profession began in Salford in 1862.
“Yet all the minister could do was mouth a few platitudes, refuse to answer important questions from delegates and then scuttle off back to London. He snubbed these NHS professionals and it has left a sour taste in the mouth.
“The irony of his swift exit was that he has to defend the government's intention to dismantle the Agenda for Change agreement in a Commons debate – yet he declined to explain himself to a vital group of health professionals today who could see their pay and terms and conditions dramatically cut if the government has its way.”