“The Government can choose to invest, and strengthen our services and support the workforce but instead they have chosen to profiteer from the pandemic and continue to abuse and degrade us all.”
By Holly Turner, NHS Workers Say No.
Last week, the Government announced our pay award which was due in April and we were angered but not at all surprised that is was a pitiful 3%. I was immediately asked how I felt about this pay rise and my answer was clear, 3% is not a rise it simply equates to a further real terms pay cut following over a decade of pay restraint. To call it a ‘rise’ is grossly misleading and will not be any cause for NHS workers to celebrate.
Having worked in the NHS for about 15 years I am all too familiar with persistently being left to cope with unsafe staffing levels, being expected to frequently work unpaid overtime to plug the gaps, picking up extra shifts to support my colleagues and keep patients safe, and most heartbreakingly our patient care being compromised time and time again; we cannot let this continue.
The fight for restorative pay is a patient safety issue and we have to continually reinforce this point when we are setting out our demands.
Just over a year ago I started the grassroots campaign group NHS Workers Say No #NHSPay15 with four other angry Nurses, whilst in the midst of a global pandemic which we entered with an eye watering 100,000 staff deficit. We had reached breaking point and wanted to mobilise and agitate, and push our unions into being fiercer in keeping us and our patients safe.
We are constantly offered the argument that we cannot afford a substantial pay increase for NHS staff but I completely reject that. This is about political choices. The Government can choose to invest, and strengthen our services and support the workforce but instead they have chosen to profiteer from the pandemic and continue to abuse and degrade us all.
The NHS and its staff have proved their worth throughout the pandemic, we have kept going with many of us working in unimaginable conditions, with our colleagues becoming sick and dying. We have colleagues who are only just scraping by, who rely on food banks and many work 40+ hours a week just to survive.
Last week we attended Downing Street to submit our #NHSPay15 petition which had an incredible 815,000 signatures on it. It was incredible to have the support of several Labour MPs on the day, and Jon Trickett MP also presented the petition in Parliament.
We reached out to the Labour leadership and were incredibly disappointed to receive no response or message of support. We are a group of NHS staff using our rest days and annual leave to campaign for change and the leader of the opposition should be unilaterally backing us. This fight is about the future of our health service. We are at breaking point. Facing a recruitment crisis and battling waiting lists of over 5 million people!
So now we move towards the process of our Unions balloting us around the dismal 3% pay award, we have a summer of hard work ahead of us if we want to achieve results. So if you are an NHS Union member please get involved in this fight, now is the time to stand together to protect each other, our families, our patients, our communities and also our NHS.