Hundreds of health workers marched to Downing Street to demand an immediate pay rise, saying they felt ‘let down’ by the Government.

Doctors, nurses and other NHS staff made their way through London to Whitehall yesterday evening, carrying banners that said ‘Clapping won’t pay my bills’ and ‘We helped you survive, now help us survive’.

A nurse has said she would invite Boris Johnson to join her on a shift if there was a second wave of coronavirus, as hundreds of NHS workers marched to Downing Street demanding an immediate pay rise.

Health workers are in the final year of a three-year deal and are due a pay rise next April – but unions want it brought forward to this year as a sign of appreciation for their hard work throughout the coronavirus crisis.

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement

Rebecca Reid, a 27-year-old London-based nurse from Prestwick in Scotland, said there is ‘desperation and anger’ among NHS staff.

Visit our live blog for the latest updates: Coronavirus news live

She said outside Downing Street: ‘We worked through an unprecedented pandemic. There are things I’m never going to forget about.

‘I think the general feeling is anger. We’re angry. We’ve been let down by our Government.

‘As a profession, we looked after the Prime Minister himself. He’s seen how brilliant we can be. And this is the reward we get. It feels like a slap. It feels like a kick in the teeth.’

Health staff carried banners saying things like ‘NHS workers are for life, not just for lockdown’ (Picture: Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 29: Protesters at the 'March for Pay Justice for NHS and Key workers' outside No. 10 Downing Street, London, United Kingdom on July 29, 2020. (Photo by Kate Green/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Hundreds of doctors, nurses and other NHS staff marched to Whitehall to demand a pay rise (Picture: Getty Images)

Ms Reid said nurses have had to turn to food banks, adding: ‘We’re getting called heroes. But I don’t see Batman going to a food bank. Heroes still have to pay the bills.

‘The NHS has been running on the goodwill of people for far too long and we can’t afford to do it any more.’

Ms Reid said it feels like Mr Johnson is paying nurses ‘lip service’ and ‘not putting his money where his mouth is’.

She said she appreciated the general public’s support in the Clap for Carers initiative on Thursday evenings during lockdown.

‘But having someone clap in Government who is saying one thing and doing another, it really upsets me,’ Ms Reid said, adding: ‘He doesn’t deserve to be clapping. He’s got blood on his hands.’

NHS workers march from St Thomas' Hospital to Downing Street, London, to demand a pay rise. Participants include the members of Unite, Keep Our NHS Public and Nurses United. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday July 29, 2020. Photo credit should read: Yui Mok/PA Wire
Unions say health workers should have their pay rise moved forward as a show of appreciation for their dedication during the pandemic (Picture: PA)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 29: Protesters at the 'March for Pay Justice for NHS and Key workers' march to 10 Downing Street, London, United Kingdom on July 29, 2020. (Photo by Kate Green/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
The Government did not commit to an early pay rise for all NHS staff last week (Picture: Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 29: Protesters at the 'March for Pay Justice for NHS and Key workers' march to 10 Downing Street, London, United Kingdom on July 29, 2020. (Photo by Kate Green/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Many say Boris Johnson ‘has got blood on his hands’ (Picture: Getty Images)

She said she was referring to issues surrounding personal protective equipment, with nurses making their own PPE and ‘putting their lives at risk’.

Ms Reid added: ‘Our Government had a chance to fix that and plan for that. They didn’t. He’s got blood on his hands. We lost so many nurses.’

Becoming emotional, Ms Reid added: ‘I would invite him to come and join me on a shift in the second wave. Because it’s coming. Just because the pubs are open doesn’t mean the pandemic’s gone anywhere.’

Asked what she thinks Mr Johnson would make of a shift alongside her, she said: ‘He wouldn’t know what to do with himself. I don’t think he’d come. I think he’s a coward.’

The Government did not commit to an early pay rise for all NHS staff last week when wage increases for 900,000 public sector workers were announced.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 29: Protesters at the 'March for Pay Justice for NHS and Key workers' march to 10 Downing Street, London, United Kingdom on July 29, 2020. (Photo by Kate Green/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Although health workers say they appreciated the Clap for Carers movement, they think it was not enough (Picture: Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 29: Protesters at the 'March for Pay Justice for NHS and Key workers' march to 10 Downing Street, London, United Kingdom on July 29, 2020. (Photo by Kate Green/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
One nurse said she would invite Boris Johnson on a shift with her (Picture: Getty Images)

Another nurse, who asked to be referred to only as Sarah, was holding a banner which said ‘Unlike Lady Gaga we don’t live for the applause Boris’, in a reference to one of the pop star’s hits.

Advertisement

Advertisement

Asked what she would say to Mr Johnson if she had the chance, Sarah said she would tell him he has ‘severely let us down’, adding: ‘Morale still needs to be kept up and he’s kicked us in the teeth by leaving us out of this pay rise, all NHS workers, the cleaners, the porters, the nurses.’

Sarah pointed out that the NHS saved Mr Johnson’s life: ‘His actions speak louder than his words right now by leaving us out.’

The Unite union’s branch at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital partnered with Keep Our NHS Public and Nurses United to hold yesterday’s march to protest against the Government’s decision to put off the pay rise for NHS staff until April 2021.

The march came as a survey by Unison suggested more than two-thirds (69%) of people think all NHS employees should be awarded a rise this year.

The union’s poll of more than 2,000 British adults found that two-thirds believed a wage increase should be significant in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The survey found that just one in 10 thinks health workers should wait until April for a rise.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

For more stories like this, check our news page.

Advertisement

Advertisement

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here