Unison has called on NHS workers to unite and press for a temporary ban on the provision of public health care by private companies.

Speaking at the TUC in Liverpool, Lilian Macer, Chair of Unison’s Health Service Group Executive, argued debates in the US had refocused attention on the NHS and the need to safeguard its future.

“The reality is that our NHS continues to provide excellent care regardless of income or employment, and at a fraction of the cost of the American system - a system that is bogged down in market bureaucracy and leaves millions without health insurance,” she said.

Ms Macer added that the effectiveness of the system could be improved without turning to privatisation, and called for the scrapping of the co-operation and competition panel to help achieve this.

“Make no mistake: the Co-operation and Competition Panel is there to enforce opportunities for private companies to make further inroads into healthcare provision. If taken at face value, its interim guidance would block virtually all public sector mergers within the NHS.”