It is our sad duty to report that Lesley Fisher has passed away. Lesley was a fantastic nurse and well know UNISON activist in London, having been active in NUPE (one of UNISON’s predecessor unions) and then as UNISON Chair of the Regional Health Committee for a number of years and a regional representative on the Service Group Executive which she also chaired.
Lesley started her nursing career at Addenbrookes hospital, Cambridge in the late 1960’s, but after qualifying moved to Elizabeth Garrett Anderson (EGA) women’s hospital in London, where she became involved in the famous campaign to save the hospital from closure and becoming actively involved in the union NUPE (now part of Unison).
Lesley was appointed a sister at the Wood Green and Southgate Hospital where in 1982 she organised an occupation of the hospital to try and save it from closure. She then transferred to the nearby St Ann’s hospital, becoming a night sister. Here, through her passion and dedication she built an enviable reputation as a fighter on behalf of her members and in the process built one of the most powerful health branches of the union with over 80% of nurse & NHS staff in membership.
Her fantastic organising and publicity skills culminated in playing key roles in national NHS pay strikes in 1982 and 1988, always ensuring nurses were at forefront of strikes, while always recognising the vital role of the whole health team. Famously in 1988, Lesley organised a “lone nurse picket” of Downing street which ended up on TV and the front pages of a number national newspapers. Lesley’s regular press statements and TV interviews ensured she was effectively the face of not only NUPE in the NHS but also progressive nurses becoming the Chair of NUPE’s national nursing advisory committee.
Lesley never forgot her roots and always ensured she made time for branch members and encouraged new activists in the union.
The respect and admiration Lesley was held in by her fellow trade unionists in COHSE & NALGO was recognised with her election not only as Chair of the Greater London health committee on the formation of UNISON in 1993, but also her election as Chair of the national UNISON Health Service Group Executive and national Chair of UNISON’s nursing sector committee.
Lesley was a towering and inspiring force for not only nursing but also trade unionism – she was simply the best of her generationWe send condolences to her family and friends for their and our loss.
“We remember them because it is an easy thing to forget;
that we are not first to suffer, rebel, fight, love and die.
The grace which we embrace life, in spite of the pain,
the sorrow, is always a measure of what has gone before”
Conroy Lawrence – Chair of the Regional Health Committee
Rose Minty-Tutton – Vice-Chair of the Regional Health Committee
Jamie Brown – Secretary to the Regional Health Committee