NHS in crisis – ‘It’s time for action’

Building for 3 July NHS protests:

by Brian, NHS Worker

Join protests on 3 July. 15% pay rise now!

The Tories’ derisory 1% pay offer to NHS staff is only the latest in a long list of injuries that healthcare staff have had to endure. Consistent underfunding is crippling the health service. It seems they want to set it up to fail.

The slashing of funding for student nurses to train removes a massive incentive for people to join the health service. Now, newly qualified nurses have to take on large amounts of debt. This is hardly the solution for a health service in crisis, with over 100,000 vacancies. Managers are being forced to make unsafe decisions every day due to staffing being at critical levels, endangering patients, and forcing staff to work in unsafe environments.

Many healthcare workers are suffering with the effects of the pandemic, both physically and mentally, on a daily basis. Because of understaffing, workers are forced to perform tasks that potentially endanger their professional registration. This stress has to take its toll.

Gestures like clapping for carers show the goodwill the public have for the health service. But it’s time for action with more substance.

Demanding a 15% pay rise for NHS workers
8th August 2020, Manchester
Photo: Sally G

The government’s consistent policy of privatisation of services, to be run for profit rather than need, undermines the efforts of NHS staff.

In Bristol, the privatisation of a large community hospital has left it running at only half capacity, and its limited range of provision doesn’t allow it to take patients with high dependency needs. This is creating a bottleneck in the general hospital where patients end up staying for far longer than they normally would.

This is detrimental to the patients and is putting further strain on an already struggling service. A lack of support from our union leaders has led to grassroots health workers mainly taking on the fight themselves.

The NHS day of action on 3 July presents a great opportunity for us to show that we won’t allow ourselves to be bystanders in the dismantling of this great institution in the name of profit.

Join the fight. This affects everyone, not just those working in the NHS. We all deserve a top class health service, free to all at the point of access.

Join the protests in your local area on 3 July – see keepournhspublic.com for details.

Waltham Forest: Burnt out but fighting back

11TH JUNE 2021

by Len Hockey, Unite Bart’s health branch secretary (personal capacity)

Burnout among NHS workers – evident before the pandemic and greatly exacerbated during it – underlines the urgency for the national leaderships of the health unions to link up a coordinated response, including strike action. This could answer the crisis, and take on this weak government.

Recently, in Waltham Forest, I moved a motion (see below) to the trades council, the body that coordinates the unions in the borough. That won support for a Waltham Forest trades council-led demo on 3 July at the main gate at Whipps Cross hospital, in support of a 15% pay increase for NHS workers, as well as outsourced workers employed by Serco at the hospital working as cleaners, porters, caterers, reception and security guards.

3 July will see a countrywide expression of anger and frustration at the accelerated undermining of health services under the Tories – five million now on waiting lists, huge staff shortages, and workers continuing to leave the service due to falling real pay and deteriorating working conditions, linked directly to lack of funding.

All this threatens to undermine the right to free healthcare that the working class won at the founding of the NHS in 1948. Whipps Cross workers have a history of fighting and winning against the effects of privatisation.

Strike action, with the solidarity of the wider community and workers’ movement, can not only secure the 15% pay increase we deserve, but also prepare the ground for future socialist struggle for a massively expanded, democratically controlled and adequately resourced socialist NHS, including nationalising big pharma and the medical supply industry.

Pass this motion in your local union

We give full support to the National Health Service and NHS workers. We condemn the derisory pay offer from the Tory government to NHS staff, and agree to support any campaign from NHS unions for a substantial increase in pay within the NHS. This should apply to all NHS workers, including outsourced staff who should be brought in-house to work directly for the health service on NHS pay, pensions, terms and conditions

We also condemn the Tory government’s public sector pay freeze and the employers’ ‘fire and rehire’ strategy. We call on all relevant unions to campaign in preparation for national coordinated strike action to end the pay freeze and the attempts to lower wages and conditions

We call on our national union to work with other unions to call a national demonstration to properly fund the NHS and end privatisation

‘Health Campaigns Together’, ‘Keep Our NHS Public’, ‘NHS Workers Say No’, and ‘NHS Staff Voices’ have called for demonstrations and rallies on Saturday 3 July 2021. We agree to play a role in building for a rally and demonstration in (your area) and call on all shop stewards, members, delegates and affiliates to support it.