We applauded NHS workers, now that applause has to turn into action to fight for a 15% pay increase. In real terms they are 20% worse off, having had a two-year pay freeze followed by a 1% pay cap for five years (supposed end in 2019). That government attack put patients at risk as 140,000 nurses left the register between 2014-2019.
There are a total of more than 1.3 million NHS workers who need the pay rise which includes nurses, paramedics, domestics and ancillary staff with 14 unions representing them including Unison, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), GMB and Unite.
Union members should demand union support for a 15% pay rise. Nurses can win. Union leaders must be made to fight, some now support demands by nurses and student nurses, but not all. They cannot use COVID-19 as an excuse.
Every NHS worker needs a pay rise and a secure job. Unions should bring all NHS staff into the struggle – security guards, cleaners, porters, technicians and so on. We must fight to end precarious work, and every job must be taken “in-house”.
Everyone should fight to save the NHS, against the cuts and privatisation schemes, such as the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) – All ‘debts’ must be cancelled.
A pay increase will help “preserve patient safety”, something nurses agree to uphold when they get their pins and qualify as a nurse. A pay increase of 15% would help fill staff vacancies and resolve understaffing and lower dependance on costly agency staff (run by private companies for profit). This would benefit the NHS as it can achieve its goal to recruit and retain staff.
The student nurse bursary was abolished in England. This means that English nursing students can expect to qualify with an average debt of around £54,582 before they have even worked a day officially as a Nurse. Tuition fees be abolished.
In Wales, the situation is slightly better as there are no fees, and small bursaries exist. However, student nurses are still expected to work 2,300 hours on practice in the wards and clinics before qualification without getting paid a penny.
All of these underfunding factors combine to create a perfect storm in which patient care suffers.
End discrimination in the NHS
We know that discrimination exists in the NHS and the wider caring sector for BAME workers and patients. The high number of BAME health and social care staff who died during Covid-19 shows that racism lurks behind the establishment’s thin veneer as much as viruses.
We have to end all inequalities that happens daily just because of people’s skin colour. This will only be achieved through militant struggle uniting workers across ethnicity.
Defend the NHS
The ISL thinks the campaign must call on all unions, patients, neighbourhoods and working class organisations to support and mobilise for the demonstrations. If the clapping meant anything, it now means mobilising. We must demand the nurses and their NHS colleagues are paid their due.
The NHS was born out the struggle for a full health service, free at the point of demand and available to all. But Johnson wants to create something like the privatised systems that exist in the USA. You are therefore not only fighting for a wage or more funding but to save the NHS against privatisation, racism and capitalism. That is a central political task. All NHS staff should join this struggle.
15% pay raise for nurses and all NHS staff
End tuition fees for all students Bring back full nurses’ bursaries
End discrimination in the NHS
An NHS that is run democratically by its workers and the communities that use it