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Working in the NHS
Low pay, cuts and stress
Nurse specialist and GMB member, Sheffield
As an NHS worker I feel as though I have been hit from all directions for the last five years. The nursing unions Unison and RCN have accepted this year's paltry 1% pay rise.
We have not seen a pay rise in line with living cost increases for the last five years. Health secretary Jeremy Hunt pointed to the increments we all receive. But he forgot to mention that to receive these payments we take on more responsibility. Nurses are now taking on jobs that were once those of junior doctors.
They want to take unsocial hours payments from us. As somebody who worked seven out of eight bank holidays last year and has had only two Christmas days in 19 years when both my wife and I have not been working, I have no doubt that our hours are unsocial.
We have had to work harder and longer due to cuts. I know of a nurse suffering mental health problems due to work related stress. Most leave shifts late and change their shifts with little notice to cover illness.
We're left short of nurses because some are sent to cover other wards. Beds that have been shut are forced to open again to cope with increased demand. Experienced staff are being replaced by inexperienced staff on a lower pay scale to cut costs.
The top down reorganisation of the NHS means that GPs hold the purse strings. The internal market is the biggest mistake in heathcare. Private clinics and hospitals provide space for elective surgery to go ahead. This just puts public money into a private purse.
The NHS has its problems, but many are working to improve services in an almost impossible situation. It is time to stop the privatisation of the NHS and to motivate a demoralised workforce. The unions have to fight for better terms and conditions for the workers, leaving the workers to get on with what they do best - caring for patients.