Nurses take pay and PPE protest to Downing Street

Demonstrators demand respirator masks for all nurses during COVID-19 pandemic and a 10% pay rise

Picture: PA

Nurses demonstrated outside Downing Street calling for higher pay and better personal protective equipment (PPE), particularly for black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) staff.

A group wearing scrubs and face masks protested outside the gates leading to Number 10, holding banners emblazoned with the messages: ‘Sack Cummings save lives’ and ‘Boris your clapping sucks. Raise our pay instead’.

Campaign group’s demands

They were part of the Nurses United campaign group, which wants a 10% pay rise for nurses and enhanced PPE during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A report by Public Health England (PHE) revealed that more than 10,000 nurses, midwives, and nursing associates had contracted COVID-19, and a disproportionate number of BAME NHS staff have died.

Government accused of censoring part of COVID-19 risk report

Public Health England has insisted its report inequality in COVID-19 risks and outcomes was published in full, despite claims of a government cover-up.

The document, published on 2 June found BAME individuals have a much higher risk of death from COVID-19 than white people, as do those from poorer backgrounds, men and people who is obese or have diabetes.

The Health Service Journal said it had been informed the Department for Health and Social Care removed a key section from the review.

It said a draft circulated inside government last week contained responses from more than 1,000 organisations and individuals who supplied evidence to the review. Some of these said discrimination and poor life chances were playing a part in the increased risk of COVID-19 to those with BAME backgrounds.

One source told HSJ the section ‘did not survive contact with [health and social care secretary] Matt Hancock's office’ over the weekend.

PHE insisted it had published the report in full.


Higher pay and higher-grade masks

Nurses United is now calling for the government to provide FFP3 respirator/filtration masks for all nurses rather than the surgical masks currently recommended for nurses working outside of high-risk areas.

One protest organiser, nurse Malcolm Bennison, said nurses deserved a 10% pay rise in recognition of their efforts during the pandemic.

‘We were subject to the most exposure without the necessary protection,’ he said. ‘We are safety-critical professionals and we are asking for fair recognition of our work.’

Mr Bennison added Nurses United is planning more demonstrations in the coming weeks.

A Department for Health and Social Care spokesperson said the NHS Pay Review Body would make recommendations on the next annual pay increase for nurses from April 2021, and that guidance on PPE had been developed in consultation with the medical royal colleges, based on World Health Organization advice.

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