Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1162/33587
The Socialist 12 January 2022 |
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Low pay, stress and Covid drive: NHS staff crisis
- Fight for 15% pay rise
- End privatisation
- For a fully funded NHS
Health workers submitted an 800,000-strong petition for an NHS pay rise to Downing Street Photo: Paul Mattsson (Click to enlarge)
Matt, NHS nurse
Over 20 NHS trusts have declared critical incidents amidst staff shortages. NHS worker absences are at around 120,000, around half of those self-isolating. Numerous trusts have cancelled 'non-emergency surgery', and once again there's been mass redeployment of staff in an attempt to cover both staff sickness and increased demand. NHS staff are again being pushed to breaking point.
Staff shortages are nothing new to the NHS; prior to the pandemic there were already 50,000 unfilled nurse and 10,000 doctor vacancies. The NHS has been systematically underfunded and attacked for decades by consecutive governments and the results are clear to see. In my trust, ICU nurses have been forced to look after up to six patients rather than the recommended one-to-one care. On wards across the hospital, two nurses for 30 patients is now commonplace.
With staff already struggling pre-pandemic, the last two years have caused huge stress and fatigue. Health workers responded to the pandemic with a fighting spirit and a sense of solidarity we can all be proud of. But we're humans not machines. For nearly two years we've been expected to work flat out, in new and unfamiliar workplaces - going above and beyond in the name of care. NHS workers don't have much left to give.
Throughout the pandemic, support from the public has been inspiring. But the Tories don't share those feelings. After a decade of below-inflation and 1% pay rises, the best they could offer NHS staff was a pitiful 3%, well below the 15% we called for.
Staff are leaving. NHS workers face a deadly cocktail of squeezed wages, fatigue and stress from the pandemic. However, if our health unions took the lead and campaigned clearly for 15%, that fatigue and stress could be turned into anger and action.
We've seen the priorities of the Tories and the capitalist bosses throughout the pandemic, it's all about profits for big business. The health and care bill further increases the influence of private companies in our health service. Unfortunately, the opposition of Sir Keir and the Labour Party is hardly opposition. Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting has stated that he'd happily use private providers in the NHS.
In order to defend the NHS we need bold socialist policies and an end to privatisation. We need a party that backs up our fight for a 15% pay rise, and that stands for the nationalisation of privatised health and social care. Join us to help build a new mass workers' party that fights for the bold socialist policies needed to save our NHS.