Thousands of nurses from around the country have gathered in London this afternoon in a bid to convince the government to give them a payrise, in line with the recent pay rises which have been awarded to other healthcare professionals.
Hardworking and dedicated nurses believe they and other healthcare staff deserve a pay rise following their life-saving dedication throughout the pandemic.
During the peak of the pandemic, tens of thousands of people ‘clapped for carers’ each Thursday to show their support for the NHS, as covered extensively in the mainstream media.
It is believed that over 200 healthcare professionals died having contracted COIVD-19, including some retired nurses who returned to the front line to help their colleagues.
But as thousands of nurses marched in London this afternoon, most sections of the mainstream media seem to have overlooked entirely the protests, which appears to be out of kilter with the amount of coverage given to other recent protests in the capital.
Since the pandemic started, nurses have been working extended shifts as they, and other healthcare professionals, risk their own lives to try and save as many lives as possible. Their working conditions have been incredibly tough with images of the effects of nursing staff having to wear FFP masks for over 12 hours at a time being widely shared on social media.
Many nurses moved out of their homes to live away from their families in a bid to shield them from COIVD-19.
Doctors and dentists were recently awarded a 2.8% pay rise.
However, pay award negotiations for nurses run on a separate cycle to doctors and a multi-year agreement has already been made with nurses which will take them up to 2021.
But this deal was made before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the UK with over 40,000 people dying from the virus in the UK alone.
Nurses and other healthcare professionals are now having to wear cumbersome PPE during their shifts as they look after seriously ill patients at a time when a heatwave has taken hold in the UK.
As temperatures hit the mid-30’s, nurses and other healthcare professions will be wearing aprons, gloves and goggles with the ambient temperature on some wards hitting the late 30’s.
Speaking about the situation during earlier interviews, health minister Vaughan Gething said:
“Nurses, therapists, and others who are covered by the agenda for change agreement, whose negotiations take place separately, and I signed off on a multi-year agreement in the last year. They got pay rises that have already been agreed.
“We have not chosen to take doctors and dentists out of their normal cycle – we have actually just made a decision in the normal course of doing this with the independent pay review bodies.”
But one critical care consultant said the increase needs to go to all NHS workers adding that they “all deserve more than a clap for what they have done” through the pandemic.
However, Matthew, who has worked in the NHS since he was 17, and who set up a petition calling for nurses to receive a pay rise, told WalesOnline:
“In work, everyone has been so supportive of the petition, and it gave everyone a boost because everyone was feeling so down about not being included in the pay rise.
“We want to hold a protest to show that it is not just numbers on the internet; it is people. We want to go that extra step.
“I know people have used the word unprecedented a lot but [Covid-19] really was.
“Yes we all signed up to be nurses but we could never have imagined something like this happening.”
Ness, a Nursing Lecturer from North Essex, said:
“I am appalled at the government’s decision not to award healthcare workers a pay rise. The sacrifices made by healthcare workers have been instrumental in the fight against COVID-19, and after years of being subject to pay freezes and excluded from increments, enough is enough.
“I set up [a] group for nurses to support each other, and membership has grown at a phenomenal rate reflecting our feeling and unity in rejecting the government’s decision.
“We are hearing stories from members about having to use food banks and payday loans – this is utterly disgusting and unacceptable.
“We have worked tirelessly in our roles, not just through COVID-19 but for the last decade, and yet again we have been treated with utter contempt by the government.”
Anthony Johnson, Nurse and Lead Organiser for Nurses United said:
“We all know who we relied upon and needed in this crisis. The problem is that this government doesn’t. Our NHS colleagues are being driven into taking action to defend themselves and the safety of us so that when you press that buzzer there will be a nurse at the end of it.”
Over 70,000 people have now joined a group on Facebook called: ‘NHS Workers Say No! To Public Sector Pay Inequality’. The community leaders of the group said:
‘Let’s make a stand and show the government that we are not prepared to sit quiet any longer.
‘We need unity to drive our voices to be heard’.
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