The UK government’s response to the hospital staff walkouts in England has been marked by neglect. The meagre pay rise offered fails to keep up with inflation, leaving NHS staff and patients bearing the brunt of wrong policies and mismanagement. It’s time for hospital staff and all those concerned about people’s health to protest, demanding justice for NHS staff who tirelessly save patients’ lives.
Government neglecting concerns of healthcare workers.
According to the government’s statement, they have acknowledged the concerns raised by healthcare workers and have initiated negotiations with healthcare unions concerning NHS pay. Nevertheless, the government’s current efforts need to be revised to address the issues healthcare workers face. The proposed slight pay increase offered by the government must be reevaluated as it fails to adequately recognise the immense sacrifices and hard work exhibited by NHS staff during the COVID-19 pandemic. Healthcare
workers are earnestly calling for a more substantial pay rise to tackle the ongoing cost of living crisis effectively. For example, Sky News reports that nurses, constituting a significant quarter of NHS staff, explicitly seek a pay rise of 5% above the inflation rate. Implementing such a raise is crucial in acknowledging and valuing the dedication and commitment displayed by these frontline workers throughout the pandemic.
NHS staff’s determination in walkouts
NHS staff have been admirably determined in strikes to get their rights. Doctors have left a Twitter message saying they’re not going away. They’re in it for the long run. They ask the government to come to the table. There have been numerous NHS strikes in the UK. These strikes show the admirable determination of NHS staff to get their rights. Below is the report of a few strikes in the past two years.
Examples of walkouts in 2022
According to Euronews, on Thursday (15/12/2022), the country’s largest nursing union staged a walkout. This marked the first time in the National Health Service (NHS) history that approximately 100,000 nurses came together to demand a 19% wage increase, citing the need to address the cost of living crisis and improve working conditions.
As reported by ALJAZEERA, thousands of ambulance workers in Britain commenced a one-day strike on Wednesday (December 21, 2022), the day after the nurses’ walkout. The situation led to a blame game between the unions and the government, accusing the other of risking lives. The government advised the public to avoid contact sports and unnecessary car trips to reduce the likelihood of needing ambulances during this time. This advice came as paramedics, call handlers, and technicians across England and Wales participated in their most significant walkout in the past three decades.
Examples of walkouts in 2023
According to Reuters, on February 6, 2023, tens of thousands of nurses and ambulance service workers staged a walkout due to a pay dispute. This significant strike further strained Britain’s state-run National Health Service (NHS). While nurses and ambulance workers had been striking separately since late last year, Monday’s walkout saw both groups, mainly in England, uniting in the most significant action in the 75-year history of the NHS.
As reported by ALJAZEERA on May 1, 2023, nurses in England participated in a walkout for the first time, impacting critical services. The industrial action on Monday stemmed from an increasingly bitter dispute with the government over pay and working conditions. The strike lasted for 28 hours and followed the rejection of the government’s pay increase offer by the Royal College of Nursing members. The offer of a 5% pay rise differed from the inflation rate, leading to discontent among the nurses and prompting them to take action. Looking
ahead, nurses plan to walk out on Tuesday, ambulance staff on Friday, and Thursday, making it potentially the most disruptive week in the history of the NHS, as noted by its Medical Director, Stephen Powis. The ongoing strikes reflect healthcare workers’ growing concerns and frustrations regarding their compensation and working conditions within the NHS.
What should NHS staff do?
It is crucial to emphasise that the NHS staff have conducted their protests and industrial actions peacefully and lawfully. However, to achieve a fair pay rise for NHS staff, NHS staff, their supporters, and healthcare unions must increase their efforts to pressure the UK government. This can be accomplished by revising negotiation strategies and petitions to make them more effective. Coordinated protests should be organised to compel the government to take immediate action. While considering further strike action as a last resort, healthcare workers should continue exploring alternative avenues to make the government address their demands.
Government scarifying Patients
Strikes by NHS staff in the UK have significantly impacted patients. There have been disruptions and delays in healthcare services. Strikes have led to the cancellation or postponement of some assistance, leading to longer waiting times and delays in treatment. Strikes have caused disruption and inconvenience to patients. However, they are a legitimate way for healthcare workers to advocate for their rights and the well-being of their patients.
According to the NHS website, after about eight months of industrial action, strikes have impacted almost 600,000 hospital appointments. Over 365,000 staff absences have occurred due to industrial action during this time. The previous step by junior doctors saw 21,000 – 24,000 staff off daily due to strikes.
The government must increase NHS staff’s wages to tackle the cost of living crisis. High-enough wages are necessary for health service workers to concentrate on patients’ safety. The government is not providing the NHS working conditions required for patients’ well-being. It is scarifying patients’ health for its imperialistic political and military purposes.
What should the public do?
The NHS website says that on July 14, 2023, NHS staff entered the eighth month of industrial action. However, the NHS and staff continue to work hard to provide patients with the best possible care. The NHS is working hard to prioritise resources to protect emergency treatment, critical care, neonatal care, maternity, and trauma and ensure we prioritise patients who have waited for the longest for elective care and cancer surgery.
It’s important to note that NHS staff have carried out their strikes with due consideration for the safety of patients and the general public. Now members of the people must show their support for the healthcare workers. They must express their support for the strike action and the cause of NHS staff by attending protests. They must sign petitions and share messages of support on social media. Moreover, .they must contact their MPs or other representatives to express their support for the strike action. Through different strategies, they must urge the government to provide a fair pay rise for NHS staff.