By Lucette Davies

Last week, a small demonstration took place outside the DGH, in protest at the 1% pay offer for NHS workers. It had to be kept small because of Covid 19 regulations but only our campaign and Unison actually turned up.

During the first lockdown many local people came out of their homes each Thursday and offered applause to NHS workers. Many local politicians have muttered something about the low pay of nurses while others have given our hospital workers tea bags and hand creams. As I walk around the streets there are still some very tired looking rainbows in windows and signs saying thankyou to the NHS. But rainbows, applause and tea bags are not a valid currency which can be used at a Tesco checkout.

If you really do appreciate the tremendous efforts of our NHS workers, now is the time to join with others and demand better pay rises. After breaking their backs to care for us all and risking their lives in the process, NHS workers deserve better. Many people don’t know, or have forgotten that between 2010 and 2018 NHS pay was frozen. So, 47% of our nurses who are at the top of Band D will have lost in real terms £6,174 year since 2010 due to pay restraint.

We have elected a Government who has turned its back on a previous agreement of 2.4% pay rise and offered NHS workers only 1%. NHS staff are exhausted and suffering from the effects of the stress that they endured during this pandemic. If we don’t act now to genuinely show our appreciation we could end up with another crisis. A crisis caused by staff shortages. It is time to remind our politicians that they work for us. We must demand they start using their positions to protect the NHS many of us rely on.

As our country attempts to recover from the pandemic we need to do everything we can to stimulate our economy. The UK has suffered the worst economic hit of the entire world through this pandemic and dealing with low pay could help counter that. The majority of us spend our pay, boosting business revenues and tax receipts as we do. It is an utter fallacy to say the UK can’t afford better pay for NHS workers. The truth is we can’t afford to not give them better pay.

Low pay is a problem right across our society. Low pay harms the economy, damages business interests and places many people under undue stress. But for our NHS we have reached a point where workers cannot suffer anymore. We have to our shame, already broken the spirit of many clinicians. They don’t need expressions of sentiment or any more promises that are later broken. They need to be able to pay their bills.

As we are approach the local elections. Please ask any canvassers you see about each candidate’s view on NHS pay. If they tell you they care about low pay make sure you ask what they have actually done about it.

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