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Thousands of healthcare workers join ‘NHS in Crisis’ march

Government called for cash boost and end to pay gap

Jo Carlowe

Monday, 05 February 2018

Thousands of demonstrators took to the street on Saturday calling for more government support for the NHS.

Health workers, and union members were amongst those to march from near University College London Hospital towards Downing Street, chanting: “Keep your hands off our NHS.”

The event, dubbed NHS in crisis — fix it now, saw the key health unions and patient groups join together in a call for:

  • An end to the winter crisis with a cash injection to restore the NHS budget
  • A commitment to increase funding each year
  • An end to the cap on NHS pay
  • No cuts, no closures, no privatisation.
The Royal College of Nursing supported its members in attending the event as part of its campaign to ‘Close the Gap’ which calls on the UK Government to value nursing staff with a pay award above inflation.

Addressing the rally, RCN president, Cecilia Akrisie Anim, said: “Nursing staff are bearing the brunt of the enormous pressures facing the NHS. Staff at every level are experiencing burnout and many of our colleagues are turning their back on jobs they love. It’s no surprise that nursing staff feel overstretched and undervalued. There are now more than 40,000 nurse vacancies in England alone.

“2018 is 70 years since the formation of the NHS and nurses have always been at the heart of it. Urgent action is needed to address the current crisis - if none is taken, it is our patients who will suffer. We will continue to speak out to defend our NHS.”

In a call for action, Unite, stated: “The NHS Winter Crisis has now descended into a perpetual year-round crisis. A crisis that has brought staff to their knees and patients languishing in overcrowded waiting rooms and hospital corridors. It doesn't have to be this way. It is time this government stops blaming patients, nurses, doctors, immigrants, flu and the elderly for their shortcomings.”

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "Our NHS is in intensive care, starved of the resources necessary to meet the needs of our ageing and diverse society. Meanwhile, brilliant, dedicated staff have suffered year after year of pay misery and are having to do more, with less, for less. "

In response to the rally, the Department of Health and Social Care said the government was aware of the pressures facing the NHS and has supported it with extra funding.

The demonstration was organised by two pressure groups: The People’s Assembly and Health Campaigns Together.

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