Agnieszka Kowalska, Oxford Socialist Party

I’ve worked on a dementia ward with only six staff for 20 patients – three nurses and three health care assistants (HCAs). If a patient had a fall, it would need a minimum of two of us to get them back to their feet. Sometimes we would need four or five, leaving the rest of the patients alone.

It was the responsibility of us HCAs to deal with call bells. Many would repeatedly use them, not understanding that they had already called someone. This would happen permanently throughout the 11.5 hour shift with only 1 hour break.

We were forced to do any training in our own time. On so many occasions I have had to fight for the right to take my annual leave, under pressure from managers unable to cover shifts. Managers don’t listen to workers on the lower bands about health and safety issues.

HCAs are angry. Many of us – as well as porters, cleaners and other auxiliary staff – feel like the trade union in our workplace is more concerned with workers in higher bands.

The Tory government has ruined the health system, and not put enough money in to stop it collapsing. We need a properly funded NHS and to kick out all the private companies that just leech the money from the NHS.

Labour says it would encourage even more privatisation. This would see a further running down of the NHS and more private companies using the NHS like a cash machine with no investment, poverty wages and lowering of trade union rights.

We need to kick out the Tories but not replace them with more Tories. We need mass investment into our NHS. We need mass recruitment and training, better hours, better wages, proper union representation for the lower bands, and democratic control of the NHS.

All parts of the NHS need to be free. We should nationalise drugs companies which are also draining the resources and finances of the NHS, with no compensation for the rich bosses. We need to bring all aspects of care like dentistry and care homes, including learning disabilities into the NHS. Also, there needs to be massive investment in training and fair chances of promotion for workers on lower bands.

The only candidates fighting for policies like these in the 2 May local elections are Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) candidates. Lots of us are low-paid workers, fighting back against the Tories and for a new party of workers.

Vote for TUSC on 2 May!

Agnieszka is a TUSC candidate for Blackbird Leys. TUSC is standing ten candidates across Oxford