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Grenfell Tower nurse challenges MPs over pay cap

A nurse who helped treat people in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire has spoken of her daily struggle to pay bills.
Simone Williams

A nurse who helped treat people in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire has spoken of her daily struggle to pay bills.

Palliative care nurse Simone Williams rushed to the scene to help those caught up in the blaze in the tower block in west London in the early hours of 14 June.

Speaking on ITV's This Morning, the day it was announced more nurse and midwives are leaving the professions than are joining, Ms Williams spoke of her disappointment at the Conservative and Democratic Unionist Party MPs who voted against a Queen's Speech amendment to lift the public sector pay cap .

Undervalued

'I was hurt, because [after] Grenfell, it wasn't just me: it was nurses, it was paramedics, it was firefighters.

A nurse who helped treat people in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire has spoken of her daily struggle to pay bills.


Simone Williams: 'Nurses are treated like we are the bottom of the cesspit'.

Palliative care nurse Simone Williams rushed to the scene to help those caught up in the blaze in the tower block in west London in the early hours of 14 June.

Speaking on ITV's This Morning, the day it was announced more nurse and midwives are leaving the professions than are joining, Ms Williams spoke of her disappointment at the Conservative and Democratic Unionist Party MPs who voted against a Queen's Speech amendment to lift the public sector pay cap.

Undervalued

'I was hurt, because [after] Grenfell, it wasn't just me: it was nurses, it was paramedics, it was firefighters. And this is not something that just happened for one day, this is going to take years of fixing and they are going to rely on nurses in the NHS to take care of people, and we are just treated like we are the bottom of the cesspit. You wouldn't go to a restaurant and tip a waitress a penny, would you? So we're basically worthless.'

Ms Williams said she has been signed off work since the fire due to smoke inhalation.

Real-terms pay cut

'Obviously I'm a nurse, so my trigger is to go forward and help, so that's just what I did.

'And then to find myself two weeks later having to discuss our pay cut, it's just really quite sad and painful for me.'

The RCN has estimated nurses have lost about £3,000 in real-terms pay cuts since 2010 because of a two-year pay freeze and four years of below-inflation 1% pay rises.

Monthly struggle to stay afloat

Asked how she manages to budget each month, Ms Williams said: 'You just basically rob Peter to pay Paul. You make a choice; are you going buy food or are you going to pay bills?'

She said she was forced to call companies to apologise for late payments and said it sounded 'crazy' that she worked as a nurse but was not able to pay her way.

'I'm fortunate that I have a very supportive family and I have a good support network, but I know [nurse] friends that have to go to food banks to get food.

Undignified

'Can you imagine how undignified it must be to go to ask for tins of food to feed your family when all you do all day, every day, is care for people?'


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