A PASSIONATE NHS and workers’ rights campaigner is retiring after 10 years at the Royal Bolton Hospital.

Not one to mince his words, Harry Hanley has become known for his forthright approach during his eight years as branch secretary for Unison, which represents hospital staff.

The former welder first got involved with healthcare when he joined the Bolton Royal Infirmary’s Hospital Sterilisation and Decontamination Unit (HSDU) back in 1993.

Mr Hanley says he had always been committed to the principles of the NHS but, when he suffered brain haemorrhage when he was aged 42, the service took on a greater significance.

The 64-year-old said: “When I had my brain haemorrhage, I had absolutely brilliant care and that’s why I’m so passionate about the NHS.

“That service actually saved my life and I’ve never forgotten that.

“I feel like I was given an extension to my life. It’s that free care that we are trying to protect.”

Mr Hanley, from Great Lever, has also represented staff through some of the Royal Bolton’s most turbulent times, including cuts and redundancies.

“I feel upset when I see what’s happening to the NHS at the moment,” said Mr Hanley. “To me the NHS is one of the best things in England because it is still free on point of entry.

“It doesn’t matter whether you’re a millionaire or a tramp, you still get treated the same.

“My biggest concern is that we will go down the same route as America, where healthcare is private.

“I don’t have my head in the clouds when it comes to the NHS. There does have to be change.

“They need start by looking at all the quangos and the amount of money we pay people in higher management.

“I do think we should get back to the good old days, where the board was made up of working class people who should be having a say on how the hospital is ran.

"That aside, if I ever needed an operation, I would always come to the Royal Bolton because I think we’ve got some of the best staff going.”

One Mr Hanley’s biggest challenges for retirement is quitting smoking.

The dad-of-three added: “Now that I’m retired, I’ve got to start looking after my health.”

Mr Hanley’s successor at union branch secretary will be announced at the end of the month.