OVER 250 London NHS doctors, nurses and hospital workers demonstrated through the West End on Saturday, demanding a 15 per cent pay increase and a stop to NHS privatisation.
The lively march from UCLH hospital to Downing Street was part of a National Day of Action on Saturday ahead of today’s 73rd anniversary of the birth of the NHS.
Whittington Hospital Unison, Unite Housing Workers and Camden Unison were prominent on the route.
Marchers were furious that after their dedication and self-sacrifice caring for Covid-19 patients during the pandemic, and the deaths of over 1,500 health and care workers, all PM Boris Johnson could offer was a ‘handclap for heroes’ followed by an insulting one per cent pay rise from the disgraced former Tory Health Secretary Hancock.
Speaking to News Line outside UCLH, Ashley Barrett, a health care assistant at Homerton Hospital, said, ‘During the pandemic people in hospitals worked until exhaustion. People quit in tears because of exhaustion.
‘For nine months patients had no visitors – we were with them all the time. Boris Johnson gave us a clap and a one per cent pay offer. His personal nurse quit through exhaustion.
‘We need a 15 per cent pay increase. As an HCA (Health Care Assistant) I get the minimum wage of £9.20 an hour and have a second job as a teaching assistant doing agency work.
‘The time for action is now. If the government does not give us 15 per cent we will be forced to take strike action. I support all workers striking for better pay and services and I support a general strike.’
Hany, an RCN nurse from Northwick Park Hospital, said: ‘We have had a deficit for decades and now the cost of living is too much to stay in London.
‘It needs to change. We are undervalued and underpaid. I did not go into nursing to take people’s money. The NHS should be free at the point of service.’
Sasha, an ambulance medic at Fulham, said, ‘We are understaffed and overworked. Every day we are seeing Covid-19 patients dying, on top of our regular patients with strokes and heart attacks.
‘After months of this we get nothing. We get one per cent! Pay the health workers 15% now!’
MP John McDonnell addressed the rally opposite Downing Street. He said: ‘I say this to the unions, they should be leading the demand for 15 per cent and if rejected by the government they should be leading industrial action and be on the picket lines with their members.
‘The Health and Social Care Bill being prepared is a £10 billion move to further privatise the NHS with Integrated Care Groups.
‘This battle to bring down this corrupt Tory government will be won on the streets.’
Tonight there will be a lobby at the Department of Health, in Victoria Street at 6pm.
Striking junior doctors sit down outside Downing Street during their fight against imposed contracts in 2016.