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12 January 2022

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Low pay, stress and Covid drive: NHS staff crisis

Health workers submitted an 800,000-strong petition for an NHS pay rise to Downing Street Photo: Paul Mattsson

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.

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In The Socialist 12 January 2022:


Super-rich get richer, while we can't make ends meet. Join the fightback!

Blow to establishment as jury backs Colston Four

Covid, stress and cutbacks fuel school staff shortages

Tories concede under cladding pressure but don't go far enough

Low pay, stress and Covid drive: NHS staff crisis

Shameless Johnson partied through lockdown

Energy price crisis: nationalise energy giants to save us from £600 hit

Energy bosses: 'Jump, cuddle and eat porridge while we raise prices'


Kazakhstan: Working-class revolt only suppressed by massive mobilisation of troops

Solidarity with workers protesting in Kazakhstan

Campaigns news

Protests against BBC transphobia

Leeds People's Budget: We beat council cuts before, we will again

Communities fight back against Rio Tinto mine

North London NHS - "It's going to be us who saves it"

Southampton student vote for online exams must be accepted

Workplace news

Coventry bin workers' pay strike

10,000 tube workers vote to strike over jobs, terms and pension cuts

East Mids rail conductors force concessions, train managers' dispute continues

Carmarthenshire gritters take action as Plaid-led council reneges on agreement

Jobcentre Coronavirus outbreak leads to reps meeting call

South Yorkshire bus strikes spreading and getting stronger

Weetabix workers defeat 'fire and rehire' and ballot on improved pay offer

Invergordon Royal Mail mutiny wins


Don't Look Up: An entertaining satire on corporate power and the US establishment

Anne: Hillsborough and the fight for justice

Money Heist: A Robin Hood tale set in modern-day capitalism

Readers' opinion

War criminal Tony Blair knighted

Bullying weighing room culture at the races

Free prescriptions? Maybe when you're older


Obituary - Pauline Wall

Obituary - Ethan Bradley 1993-2021


Home   |   The Socialist 12 January 2022   |   Join the Socialist Party

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Related links:


triangleNorth London NHS - "It's going to be us who saves it"

triangleNHS Covid staff crisis

triangleCoventry: Private profits from hospital parking

triangleBarts health workers to strike for a pay rise

triangleFighting union leadership needed to win NHS pay rise


triangleSouthampton student vote for online exams must be accepted

triangleCovid, stress and cutbacks fuel school staff shortages

triangleShameless Johnson partied through lockdown

triangleUnion action needed for Covid safety


triangleGCSE grading game stresses out students - even more than before!

triangleTeacher recruitment falls by a third - cut workload, not funding

triangleTory prescription for mental illness: stress and bureaucracy


triangleWeetabix workers defeat 'fire and rehire' and ballot on improved pay offer

triangleEast Mids rail conductors force concessions, train managers' dispute continues

Low pay:

triangleWorkers' action can defeat weak and divided Tories


triangleFree prescriptions? Maybe when you're older

Article dated 12 January 2022

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triangle18 Jan Cardiff West Socialist Party: Racism in the police - the fight for justice for the Cardiff 3

triangle18 Jan Caerphilly and RCT Socialist Party: Where is Britain going?

triangle19 Jan York & North Yorkshire TUSC people's budget meeting


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Coventry bin workers on strike, January 2022, photo by Dave Nellist

Socialist Party members joined the picket lines of striking bin workers in Coventry fighting for better pay. January 2022

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