The health service trade unions have campaigned against the privatisation of NHS services for many years. In 1983, the Conservative Government of the time, led by Margaret Thatcher, started to privatise NHS ancillary services (e.g. cleaning and catering).
This poster from NUPE (National Union of Public Employees) was produced in 1983-4 to highlight the concern of their members about the effects of privatising NHS services. It has a rather dramatic image of the blood dripping out of the letters of the NHS into buckets, ready to be consumed by the leeches held by a laughing businessman.
In 1993 NUPE merged with COHSE (Confederation of Health Service Employees) and NALGO (National and Local Government Officers Association), two other public sector unions, to form unison. The slogan ‘Hands off the NHS’ is still used today.
Jenni Rockliff (volunteer working on poster collection in the TUC Library).