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FRONT-LINE NHS workers marched to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s home in Downing Street this evening, demanding pay justice after being “criminally let down” by the government.
Protesters assembled outside St Thomas’ Hospital in London for the socially distanced demonstration and marched to No 10, where they held a number of speeches.
The action came as part of nationwide anger at the government’s decision to put off a pay rise for NHS staff until April 2021.
Last week, Chancellor Rishi Sunak awarded pay rises for 900,000 public-sector workers, including doctors, teachers and police officers, but offered no support to other key workers.
Nurse Mark Boothroyd, branch secretary of Unite at St Thomas’ Hospital, said: “NHS workers have been criminally let down by this government.
“Despite all our sacrifices, the government has not included nurses in the pay deal for public-sector workers.
“We have worked masses of overtime, isolated from our families, and lost over 540 of our colleagues to Covid-19. We are not valued.”
Mr Boothroyd said NHS workers deserved a pay rise after a decade of austerity which has effectively left staff with a 20 per cent pay cut since 2010.
He also urged the government to do more to fill the 40,000 vacancies across the NHS which is putting patients at risk.
NHS annual figures reveal that a Band 5 NHS nurse is over £6,000 worse off today than 10 years ago as the rate of pay fails to keep up with inflation.
Low-paid NHS staff have said they are finding it increasingly difficult to manage in London, with rent and the cost of living soaring.
Nurse and Keep Our NHS Public member Iain Wilson said he was tired of the government “letting us down.”
“[The government] lies about privatising our jobs, about recruiting 50,000 more nurses and about personal protective equipment during the pandemic,” Mr Wilson said.
“Things can’t improve in the NHS without more staff to care for our ageing population, and we won’t have more staff until existing staff are trusted and valued, so that more people want to join us.
“After everything we’ve done, we deserve better and a pay rise should be the start.”
A Royal College of Nursing survey this year reported that 36 per cent of respondents were now considering leaving the profession.
Of these, 61 per cent cited pay as the primary factor.
And a separate survey by Unison found nearly 70 per cent of the British public think all NHS staff should be given a pay rise before the end of the year.
The union’s poll, released today, of more than 2,000 adults found that two-thirds believe a wage increase should be significant in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Unison’s head of health Sara Gorton said: “A wage increase needs sorting right away so the NHS is fit to face the winter ahead and all that may bring.
“Enough of hands together — people want to see hands in pockets, and now.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said they were “incredibly grateful” to the entire NHS and social care workforce for their hard work and dedication during the pandemic, adding they “will continue to ensure all staff are rewarded fairly.”
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