Published: 13/06/2002, Volume II2, No.5809 Page 7

Health union Unison is set for heated debate over its contribution to Labour Party funds at its annual conference next week, amid increasing anger at the government's public services policy.

Since last year's conference resolution to review the union's political funds, tension between the union and government over the increased and now 'permanent' role of private providers in the NHS has grown.

And unrest over the private finance initiative is unabated, with delegates to the union's health service group conference last month passing a resolution condemning their service group executive for agreeing to the terms of three PFI pilot schemes testing the retention of employment model.

Mark New, joint secretary of Dudley Group of Hospitals branch - where around 600 workers took strike action against their transfer out of the NHS last year - emphasised that feelings were running high.

'The decision at [health] conference was an expression of members' anger that the pilot deal is not good enough, ' he said.

The fate of the pilot schemes is now unclear, with the health service group executive yet to discuss the health conference decision.

The full union conference in Bournemouth will also hear resolutions condemning the new role of private providers in the NHS, while a motion submitted by a local government branch opposing 'externalisation' to notfor-profit trusts could have implications for future foundation hospitals.

Top Marks for Jennings Karen Jennings, formerly Unison's head of nursing, has taken over as national secretary for health from Paul Marks, who will be concentrating on the Agenda For Change pay talks.

Ms Jennings, a registered nurse, worked in both hospital and community settings before becoming a researcher in health and social policy.

She worked for predecessor union CoHSE before joining the Unison team.