Bristol ambulance strikers, photo Roger Thomas
Bristol ambulance strikers, photo Roger Thomas
  • Save our NHS
  • Fight for inflation-proof pay rises
  • Defeat new anti-union laws

Helen Perriam, NHS mental health nurse, Cardiff West Socialist Party member

No lunch break in six years, over an hour every day over my contracted hours. All so as not to let patients down. And now the Tories are telling us to work harder!

I work in a broken system – the NHS – criminally underfunded and understaffed. At every turn we’re faced with a lack of staff to provide the care people need.

Nurses are leaving the profession in their thousands because they cannot take the unbearable pressure of what is being asked of them, and for pay that is not keeping up with inflation. Nurses have had a pay cut of 20% over the last 12 years of Tory government.

What’s the answer? Working-class people standing shoulder-to-shoulder on the picket lines, refusing to accept current pay and conditions. We demand a dignified inflation-proof pay rise that reflects the important job we do, safe staffing levels, and access to helpful and meaningful therapies and care for all.

Stop the continued back-door privatisation of the NHS and bring all people working for the NHS back in-house on the same contracts, with no compensation for the fat-cat privatisers.

There’s enough money for a fully funded health service. The UK is the sixth-richest country in the world and there’s always money when the rich ‘need’ it.

Asking the government nicely to “please pay us more” doesn’t work. That’s why we have called on the leaders of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) to act by coordinating the strikes, building towards striking together on one day – effectively a 24-hour general strike to show we won’t be bullied anymore.

If Labour, as its leadership has shown so far, is not prepared to support strike action, then we need a new party that does. One that puts ordinary people’s needs first and not those of billionaire bosses.

We can do it! By striking together we can save the NHS!

Our unit treats elderly people in crisis. They are at risk of being admitted to an inpatient bed, or the loved ones that care for them are at risk. Our service provides a vital role supporting those people to get better, through a range of therapies and treatments.

Although much in demand, we are often unable to provide the care we need to because of a lack of resources and funding. For example, we are often unable to offer patients enough time to complete treatment due to pressure on spaces.

Another crisis

These people will invariably have another crisis, because their first period of attendance was not long enough to treat the cause of their mental ill health, and return to our unit multiple times.

Furthermore, when we reach the point of discharge, there are not enough community mental health nurses to support the person to continue to get better or remain well. In the area we cover, there are four community mental health nurses in post. There should be 12.

Another example of how patients are being let down is lack of access to community activities and therapies. Those that are available are few and far between, tricky to get to with mobility problems, or the centre has closed due to lack of funding. The overarching problem that links all these issues is lack of funding, lack of resources and lack of nurses.