THOUSANDS of nursing staff from across England will join tens of thousands of workers and youth on a march and demonstration in London today.
Royal College of Nursing members will support campaigners, other unions and patient groups as part of the ‘NHS in crisis: Fix it now’ event. Activists will march through central London from noon before holding an hour-long rally opposite Downing Street.
The event is staged as the latest official NHS performance figures demonstrate the need for extra government investment to ease the current pressure on hospitals. Sheena Archer, a member of the RCN in the South West, who will travel to London on Saturday, said ahead of the event: ‘I’m going on the march because I’m really sad at our NHS going down the drain. It’s heart-breaking to see.
‘I’m a health care assistant and the NHS has saved my life three times. How long before my team is privatised like others? With the winter crisis, morale is at an absolute low. We’ve got to stand up for each other – patients deserve better and we deserve better too.
‘The hospital can’t run without the cleaners; the patients couldn’t eat without the kitchen staff; the staff can’t get paid without the payroll department; and the hospital can’t run without IT.’
RCN President, Cecilia Akrisie Anim, will address the rally and say: ‘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.’