Crisis in our NHS

Advertisements

There is a crisis in our National Health Service (NHS).

Staff are underpaid and overworked to the point of burnout and breakdown.

Waiting lists are growing longer.

Patients and relatives are left bewildered by the tangled web of services with fancy names that promise a lot but deliver so little.

It’s got to the point where nurses are saying enough is enough because the state of the National Health Service is not their fault.

Guilt has been loaded onto individual nurses for a staffing crisis that they have not created.  
Nurses in the UK have been pushed to breaking point by the government, who have delayed two paltry pay rises. Years of 0% or just over 1% pay rises mean that nurses are struggling to make ends meet.

Too many nurses are leaving the NHS because of deteriorating pay and conditions, and there is now a staggering 47,000 vacancy rate that NHS trusts are struggling to fill.

By going on strike, nurses will put responsibility for patient safety back into the hands of CEOs and government where it belongs.. They have a fighting chance to force through positive changes that will benefit themselves and patients over longer term..

The Royal College of Nurses represents 300,000 nurses who have suffered a 20% real terms pay cut since 2010.

Patricia Marquis, director for England at the RCN, says that the waiting lists will only come down when there is proper investment in the workforce.

Patrick Harrington General Secretary of Solidarity says that misbanding, bosses’ incompetence and under inflation pay rises are destroying morale in the NHS.

Sara Gorton, head of health for Unison, says that without a decent wage rise, health workers will continue to leave, and patients suffer.

Reliance on agency staff

NHS bosses are increasingly paying premium rates for agency staff to plug holes in rotas. Spending in this area rose by 20% last year to hit £3bn in England.

For many shifts, bosses have been so short-staffed they have been willing to breach the government pay caps for these agency workers, most of whom are doctors and nurses.

In a world where automation and technology are constantly evolving, the rise of robotics is inevitable. Robotics can be defined as the use of machines to automate tasks that have traditionally been done by humans.

With advancements in AI and machine learning, robots are becoming increasingly capable of performing complex tasks and making decisions on their own.

While some people may fear the rise of the robots, there are many reasons why robotics can be seen as a positive force for humanity. Here are just a few:

Waiting lists grow

Waiting lists are growing. There is a huge backlog.

The backlog in secondary care consists of the care that the NHS would normally have delivered but which was disrupted as COVID-19 impacted service delivery.

This includes patients on a waiting list for treatment who would ordinarily have been seen by now, patients who have not yet presented to their GP to seek a referral for symptoms due to concerns of burdening the health service or fears around COVID-19 infection, patients who have had procedures cancelled, referrals delayed or cancelled, and referrals refused due to lack of capacity.

It will take years to clear the backlog. The ongoing need for stringent infection prevention control measures and workforce shortages mean it will take even longer to work through as demand continues to rise.

At the beginning of the pandemic, the combination of suspension of non-urgent services and changes to individuals’ behaviour meant that the number of people joining the waiting list initially dropped.

However, this has since been rising – and despite some improvements earlier in the year, waiting times remain far higher than pre-COVID: The latest figures for September 2022 show a record high of almost 7.1 million people waiting for treatment; 2.87 million patients waiting over 18 weeks for treatment and 401537 patients waiting over a year.

Those are the numbers, but each figure represents pain and suffering. The human suffering caused by NHS waiting lists and denied operations can be immense.

People can find themselves waiting months or even years for procedures that they need, and in some cases, they may be forced to seek treatment elsewhere.

This can result in increased financial stress, decreased quality of life, and even death.

There are countless examples of people who have had to seek treatment outside of the NHS due to long waiting lists and denied operations.

In many cases, these people are forced to take on large amounts of debt or go without necessary treatment altogether.

This human suffering should not be tolerated in a country as wealthy as the United Kingdom.

The NHS must do better at meeting the needs of its patients. It’s also past time that the NHS listened to its workers and valued them with appropriate wages.

The strikers are fighting for us all. If they did nothing things would just continue on a downward spiral. We must stand behind the strikers if we want to end the crisis in the NHS.

#NursesStrike #fbnhs #FairPayforNursing #SafeStaffingSavesLives #NHS. #FBNHS

Health workers anger on pay

Advertisements
Health secretary Therese Coffey said recently that NHS workers will not get a higher pay offer than the present one of 3 percent. So for all the praise during the most deadly phase of the pandemic, health workers are now being told to take a pay cut of almost 10 percent.

It’s another reason to vote for strikes in the ballots taking place now. Sharon Graham, leader of the Unite union, said, “With RPI now up to 12.6 percent, workers and communities must not pay for a crisis they did not create. We will not stand by and watch the country take a pay cut while corporations profit and the government pours petrol on the fire.

”“Vote yes to save the NHS!” is the Unison union’s slogan as it launches a massive strike ballot over pay. Some 320,000 health workers in England and Wales are set to receive ballot papers in the coming days. It comes after the government imposed a rise of just 4 percent—less than a third of the rate of inflation. Unison is joining the nurses’ RCN, midwives’ RCM, Unite, GMB and physiotherapists’ unions in asking its members to hit back with strikes. It now looks likely that there will be action by at least some groups of NHS workers in December or early next year.

The Unison ballot is “disaggregated”, meaning the vote will take place on a trust by trust basis. Organisers hope this will allow workers in parts of the NHS where union organisation is strong to strike, even if weaker areas fail to meet the Tories’ 50 percent turnout threshold. Pat Harrington, general secretary of Solidarity, commented: “Our brothers and sisters in other unions will need to mount an enormous campaign to get the vote out. We have a number of members in the NHS and we will be discussing with them as to how best we can support any strikes and picket lines.”

NHS: Banding pay disputes intensify in Greater Manchester

Advertisements

Around 200 clinical support workers and healthcare assistants at Salford Royal Hospital in Greater Manchester recently launched a collective grievance over their pay. The workers are demanding to be re-graded to NHS band 3 and backpaid to April 2018. They argue that they are doing the same job as their counterparts who are already on band 3, and so should be paid the same.

The workers handed their complaint to NHS trust bosses at the Salford Royal Hospital, and were joined online by many others at hospitals in Oldham, Rochdale and Fairfield. The trust has said that it is “disappointed” that the workers have taken this action, but that it is committed to “engaging positively” with them. A spokesman for the trust said that a final decision on the matter will be made by the end of October.

The workers’ demand for equal pay is just one example of the increasing pressure that NHS staff are under. In recent years, there have been reports of record levels of staff sickness, burnout and stress. Many staff are working excessive hours just to keep up with demand. This situation is only likely to get worse as the NHS faces further funding cuts in the years ahead.

Sandra, a band 2 clinical support worker at Salford, was furious with the trust. “In May, I had to sell my car as I could no longer afford it,” she told bosses. “I now cycle to work. I wake up at 4.20am, I leave my home at 5am and cycle 11.79 miles to work.

“During my shift I will get phone calls asking me to do things like ECGs and taking bloods. I don’t say, ‘No, I’m sorry I don’t get paid enough”. I don’t say, ‘No, I’m sorry I’m not a band 3”, I say “Yes of course I will. What bloods do you need?”

“I leave work at 7pm. I get changed and cycle the 11.79 miles home again. I usually get home around 8.30pm. I then get up the next day at 4.20am to do it all again—because I don’t get paid enough for the job I do.”

Unison union reps then handed over 900 staff signatures demanding change and asked NHS trust boss Owen Williams also to sign it. “Colleagues want me to sign something. I don’t feel I need to sign a pledge,” he replied.

Unison members then started chanting, “Sign it! Sign it! Sign it!” Williams signed the pledge.

At the Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust workers are also demanding fair banding and fair pay.

Bosses at Manchester University NHS Trust need to learn to listen to workers and their representatives

One worker told us that specialist decontamination staff have sent a group petition calling on managers to give them the appropriate band and pay back money for the money they have lost from being wrongly banded. The worker said: “It is essential that employees are paid the correct rate for their position, as this not only provides a sense of fairness and justice in the workplace, but also helps to motivate and encourage staff. That is why it is so important that management listen to our concerns and address the issue of our pay rates. We simply want to be paid at the right rate for the job we do, and if we are unable to persuade management to see our point of view, we may have no choice but to escalate the matter. We hope that it does not come to this, and that management will take our concerns seriously and provide us with the fair compensation we deserve.”

Suicidal thoughts increase sharply amongst NHS and emergency workers

Advertisements

The number of NHS and emergency workers seeking help for suicidal thoughts has increased sharply, research has revealed.

Solidarity union campaigns for workplace wellbeing

Figures from the Laura Hyde Foundation (LHF) shows that 946 workers contacted the charity in the first six months of 2022 for support over suicidal thoughts, up from 556 the year before.

The charity, which was set up by the family of nurse Laura Hyde who took her own life in 2016, offers help to medical and emergency service workers including nurses, doctors, paramedics, midwives, police officers and firefighters.

LHF has launched a new Feelings video to raise awareness of mental health issues among front-line workers, as the charity warned that people could face even more severe issues due to pressures from the cost-of-living crisis.

You can view the video here.

LHF chairman Liam Barnes said: “It is critically important that the new Prime Minister and her new Health Secretary put providing mental health support to emergency workers at the very top of their agenda.

“Sadly, the topic of mental health specifically for healthcare workers remains riddled with stigma. This simply has to end.”

Gemma Clay, 38, nurse and clinical doctorate fellow at the University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust, called for more action to support front-line workers.

She said: “When I talk to staff, many of them tell me that the cost-of-living crisis is having a big impact on their mental health.

“Large numbers are also suffering from PTSD linked to the pandemic and burnout due to the current pressures that exist within the service.”

The Strikers are fighting for us all says Pat Harrington

Advertisements

In the UK, workers are striking for a number of reasons. They’re fighting for better pay and working conditions, They are seeking higher wages in order to keep up with the rising cost of living. The average UK worker has seen their real wages fall by 10% since 2008, while the cost of living has risen by more than 20%. This means that workers are struggling to make ends meet and many are increasingly reliant on food banks and other forms of charity. The strikers are also calling for an end to zero-hours contracts, which leave workers unable to predict their income from one month to the next. These contracts can make it very difficult to budget and save for unexpected expenses. The strike action is unprecedented in recent years and is a sign of the growing frustration of workers who feel that they are being made to pay the cost of inept political leadership and economic management.

The prices of essentials like food and housing have been rising faster than wages for years, and people are struggling to make ends meet. The strikers believe that the only way to address the cost of living crisis is to fight for higher wages and better working conditions. By doing so, they hope to make life better for all those affected by the crisis.

Battle lines are being drawn

Unions are prepared to fight against real-term wage cuts for their members. There are some big battles on the way and everyone will have to decide which side they are on. For us it’s simple – we are on the side of the workers and against those who’ve caused the cost of living crisis and now expect ordinary people to pay for their mistakes. Here is a breakdown of some of the battles to come.

Rail workers

Around 50,000 rail workers in the RMT, Aslef, and TSSA unions are fighting over below-inflation pay offers, job cuts, and working conditions. RMT members are planning three 24-hour strikes on Wednesday 27 July, Wednesday 18 August, and Saturday 20 August. The union is also in dispute with Network Rail over plans to cut 1,500 jobs and close ticket offices. Aslef members are planning a 24-hour strike on Saturday 30 July. The union is in dispute with eight train operating companies over pay, rostering arrangements, and the introduction of driver-only operated trains. TSSA members are balloting for industrial action. The union is in dispute with Network Rail over pay and working conditions. All three unions are also in dispute with London Underground over the closure of ticket offices and the introduction of all-night Tube services. Industrial action is likely to cause widespread disruption to rail services across the country.

Posties and communication workers

Nearly all Royal Mail workers who voted supported going on strike in a huge 97.6 percent landslide, making it clear they are ready to battle their bosses. The Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) members backed strikes by an overwhelming margin on a turnout of 77 percent in their fight against the imposition of a 2 percent pay increase by management. No strike days have been announced yet by the CWU. This follows other recent high-profile industrial disputes such as British Airways. Given the government’s attacks on workers’ rights, union membership has been growing recently as people look to emulate the success of French workers in fighting back against austerity. With such a massive show of support from CWU members, management at Royal Mail will be under pressure to start negotiating seriously or face the possibility of widespread disruption to mail services across the country.

Public service workers

PCS union members are demanding a 10 percent pay increase and a minimum wage of at least £15 an hour. The ballot is set to begin on 26 September and run for six weeks until 7 November. If the workers vote in favour of strike action, it could mean serious disruption for government departments across the UK. The union has already taken industrial action this year, with walkouts happening in May and June. Talks between the PCS and the government have so far failed to reach an agreement, with the union accusing the government of offering “derisory” pay rises. The workers are also angry about job losses and cuts to workplace benefits, such as pensions. With no end to the dispute in sight, it looks like we could see more industrial action from the PCS in the near future.

Teachers

Teachers across schools in England will be consulted on strikes in the autumn. The Tory government wants to impose a 5 percent increase on teachers after recommendations from the School Teachers’ Review Body. When? NEU joint general secretary Kevin Courtney said the union would consult members on strikes in the autumn with “the largest ballot of teachers for a generation”. Meanwhile, the NASUWT said its executive would meet on September 14 to consider ballots for action. What’s the problem? Teachers say they have faced a real-terms pay cut since 2010 and that their pay has fallen behind other graduate professions. They also argue that increased workload and mounting pressure are making the profession unsustainable. The government says it has increased funding for schools and that teachers’ pay is a matter for individual headteachers. However, headteachers say they are being forced to make cuts because of reductions in funding. Low morale among teachers is having an impact on pupils, with around two-thirds of teachers saying they are considering leaving the profession, according to a recent survey.

NHS workers

The Tories are at it again! This time, they’re trying to push through a real-terms pay cut for NHS workers in England. With over one million NHS staff affected, including nurses, paramedics, and midwives, this is sure to be a controversial move.

Under the Tories’ plans, NHS workers would receive a pay increase of £1,400 a year. However, when inflation is taken into account, this actually amounts to a real-term pay cut of £200 a year for porters, £1,100 for nurses, and £1,500 for paramedics. The main health unions are understandably up in arms about this proposal.

It’s yet another example of the Tories’ complete disregard for the vital role that NHS staff play in our society. We all rely on the NHS when we’re sick or injured, and these dedicated workers deserve to be fairly compensated for their hard work. Imposing a pay cut on them is nothing short of disgraceful.

Fire and Rescue

The FBU union’s executive council has unanimously rejected a 2 percent pay offer from fire and rescue employers. The council says the offer is “insulting” and that plans are being prepared to develop a campaign for decent pay, including the possibility of strike action. With firefighters already among the lowest-paid workers in the public sector, the union is adamant that its members deserve a fair deal. It remains to be seen whether the employers will budge on their offer, but one thing is clear – the FBU is ready to fight for a better deal for its members.

Solidarity union backs our brothers and sisters 100 percent. We must back the strikes however we can. We must encourage other workers outside traditional union structures to organise and take action and co-ordinate our efforts. The strikers are fighting for us all by making it clear that ordinary people will not suffer impoverishment and cuts to their wages to pay for the mistakes of those who misgovern us. Political leaders haven’t fought for the people. The unions must.

By Patrick Harrington, General Secretary of Solidarity union

NHS: The George cross is not enough

Advertisements

The Queen has given the NHS a collective medal for bravery and service. They were awarded the George Cross. The George Cross is the highest award bestowed by the Queen for non-operational gallantry or gallantry, not in the presence of an enemy.

That doesn’t make up for putting yourself and your loved ones at risk of deadly infection for more than a year. 

Giving NHS workers that recognition is important and right but it doesn’t pay the bills. Despite all ­workers’ sacrifices, and the urgent need to attract new staff, the ­government plans to offer them yet another below-inflation pay rise.

NHS staff were supposed to get a rise in April but workers are still waiting to see what increase the independent pay review body will recommend.

This meme sums up the feeling of NHS workers who are praised to high heaven but underpaid

UNISON is calling on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to deliver a swift rise to give the NHS the boost it needs after 16 months fighting Covid-19.

UNISON Eastern head of health Sasha Savage said: “NHS staff have given their all over the past year and a half but haven’t had any increase in pay for almost the entire pandemic.

We’ve all seen the gratitude the public has shown to the NHS and its staff through Covid, but it’s time for ministers to move beyond empty rhetoric and give staff a proper pay rise. “

Pat Harrington, general secretary of Solidarity union commented: “Let’s all get behind the UNISON campaign for fair wages for NHS staff. Sign their petition here and spread the word“.