NHS workers in London covered themselves in fake blood today as they demanded a 15% pay rise for their tireless hard work during the pandemic.
Staff from Guys’ and St Thomas’ hospitals pretended to lie dead on the ground outside Downing Street, as others held pictures of Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock with their hands soaked in blood. The Prime Minister was a patient at St Thomas’ Hospital himself when he tested positive for coronavirus in March.
Many of the protesters had their roles within the NHS emblazoned on their scrubs, while the majority carried signs which urged the government for to create ‘pay justice now’, telling them: ‘Clapping is not enough’.
A critical care nurse, who called the Prime Minister an ‘absolute joke’ and a ‘clown’, told how some workers had been struggling so much on their current pay that they could not afford the tube.
Dave Carr, 57, said: ‘We can’t do our jobs properly because of the shortages there are in nursing staff and all grades of staff within the NHS. My pay has been eroded by about 20% over the last 10 years.
‘I earn more or less the same as I earned 10 years ago. I’m a senior, senior nurse in critical care and I’m finding it difficult to survive. If you’re looking at young nurses or young health workers with families it’s even doubly difficult.
‘But if you’re looking at our ancillary staff – our porters, our cleaners – who are on the demonstration, it’s almost impossible for people to live.
‘We’ve got staff that come to work on the night bus because they can’t afford the tube. It’s that bad inside the NHS at the moment.’
He added: ‘We’re on our knees. We’re absolutely on our knees.’
The protests were organised as part of the ongoing ‘NHS Pay 15’ movement, which has seen thousands of workers demonstrate outside hospitals across the country.
In July, Rishi Sunak announced a 3.1% pay rise for nearly 900,000 public sector workers due to their ‘vital contribution’ amid the pandemic. The increase includes doctors, dentists and teachers, but not nurses or junior doctors.
This is because a separate three-year deal was agreed with nurses in 2018, and a four-year deal was agreed with junior doctors last year.
For nurses, the agreement has seen the average worker’s pay increase by 4.4% this year. The deal is due to end April 2021, but unions have requested the government to bring this forward as a thank you for nurses’ work amid the pandemic.
Mr Carr, who has worked in the NHS for 38 years, said: ‘I think that the way that the whole pandemic has been handled in terms of the lack of speed of lockdown and the farce, and continued farce, over PPE, has been an absolute disgrace in a country this rich and this developed.
‘We in the NHS did absolutely everything that we could to make sure that the patients in front of us got the best possible care there was and I’m really proud of what I did during that.
‘But I’m not proud of how the government handled the pandemic.’
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