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NURSES gathered outside Downing Street today to demand better pay and improved provision of personal protective equipment (PPE), particularly for black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) staff at higher risk from Covid-19.
Wearing scrubs and face masks, health workers from campaign group Nurses United UK held placards reading: “Sack Cummings, save lives” and “Boris, your clapping sucks. Raise our pay instead.”
The group is calling on the government to raise nurses’ wages by 10 per cent and has launched a PPE tracking tool for nurses to anonymously submit details of where there are shortages.
Nurses United UK’s Anthony Johnson said: “There is an issue where people don't listen to nurses, they ignore our voices. We want nurses to get active.”
Mr Johnson feared there would be a second peak of the disease and warned that there must be “real protection” from Covid-19 for nurses, particularly BAME staff.
BAME people are at more than twice the risk of dying from Covid-19, according to a redacted study published by Public Health England on Tuesday.
Protester Malcolm Bennison, a London-based nurse, said: “When everyone was asked to shelter, nurses met the challenge along with other key workers.
“We were subject to the most exposure without the necessary protection, ” he said, adding that a pay rise was essential for the “lowest-paid degree-only profession in the country.”
More than three-quarters of the British public agree that there should be a permanent 10 per cent pay rise for nurses, according to polling by YouGov last month.
France has already promised a “significant” pay boost for its health staff amid the pandemic.
Protesters also showed solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.
A nurse held a sign reading: “I'm not black, but I see you. I’m not black, but I hear you. I’m not black, but I will mourn with you. I’m not black, but I will fight for you.”
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