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Government unmoved by protests over NHS staff pay rise

Nurse demonstrators in London applauded in the street, but union demands go unmet
London pay demonstration

Nurse demonstrators in London applauded in the street, but union demands go unmet

The government says NHS staff must wait until next year for a pay rise, despite thousands taking to the streets to demand better wages for workers on their knees in the wake of COVID-19.

The socially distanced protests on 8 August were organised by the Facebook group NHS Workers Say No and took place across the UK.

Applause for demonstrators as they marched to Downing Street

Demonstrators in London chanting Boris Johnson hear us shout, pay us properly or get out were applauded by members of the public as they marched to Downing Street.

There was also a two-minute silence to honour colleagues who lost their lives during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Nurse demonstrators in London applauded in the street, but union demands go unmet


Protestors at the pay demonstration in London Picture: PA

The government says NHS staff must wait until next year for a pay rise, despite thousands taking to the streets to demand better wages for workers ‘on their knees’ in the wake of COVID-19.

The socially distanced protests on 8 August were organised by the Facebook group NHS Workers Say No and took place across the UK.

Applause for demonstrators as they marched to Downing Street

Demonstrators in London chanting ‘Boris Johnson hear us shout, pay us properly or get out’ were applauded by members of the public as they marched to Downing Street.

There was also a two-minute silence to honour colleagues who lost their lives during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The protests were organised after NHS staff on Agenda for Change contracts were excluded from a public sector pay rise because they are in the final year of a three-year pay deal.

While NHS staff are due a pay rise next April, unions have called on the government to introduce a pay rise before the end of 2020 in appreciation of the work of healthcare workers during the pandemic.


A protestor in London calling for a
pay rise fit for heroes Picture: PA

Demands for parity with other public sector workers

Critical care nurse Dave Carr, from St Thomas’ Hospital in London, said staff are ‘on their knees’ following months of hard work.

Speaking at the London protest he said: ‘The government give 900,000 public sector workers a pay rise – and I haven’t got a problem with that – but they carve us out. I’m absolutely fuming. Tired and fuming.’

His sentiments were echoed by Glasgow event organiser, senior charge nurse Melanie Gale.

‘We’re here today to say we have had enough, we deserve our equal pay,’ she said.

Care minister tells nurses to wait until next year for pay rise  

But ministers’ minds appear unchanged after the protests, with care minister Helen Whately telling BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on 10 August that an announcement on nursing pay is still due next year.

Ms Whately added it is also important make the experience of being a nurse more positive by having more staff and a better working environment.

‘We absolutely recognise the importance of pay to nurses… pay is important, but it’s only part of it,’ she said.

Responding to Ms Whately’s comments, an RCN spokesperson said: ‘Nurses must receive fair pay for their professionalism and telling them to wait until next year is unacceptable.’

Unison echoed the RCN’s comments, with the union’s deputy head of health Helga Pile stating: ‘This can't wait until next year. The huge efforts of NHS staff, from porters to nurses, must be rewarded now.’


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