On Wednesday, as part of unionstogether’s Workers Week, I along with Labour’s Angela Eagle MP visited staff at Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospital – where dedicated nurses, doctors and support staff have made it one of the top-performing hospitals in the country.
The discussion we had with staff members shone a light on the crisis facing our NHS as a result of Tory neglect and confirmed what is at stake in May 2015.
13,000 people work at this massive NHS trust group – one of the largest in the country – but even here dedicated staff are struggling. They are working harder, and despite extensive plans to cope with this winter, it’s getting more and more difficult to keep up.
On top of this, they are in the fourth year of a brutal pay freeze which has seen their real terms pay fall by 15%, while everyday costs have gone up.
Throughout the visit, nurses and health staff were telling us how hard it was to cover everyday costs – many of them travel up to five hours a day because they can’t afford the eye-watering rents in London and they struggle to make their wages last the month. This is an outrageous way to treat people who care for society’s most vulnerable day in day out.
The Tories, who inherited record satisfaction and spending levels, ploughed £3bn into making it easier for profiteers to make money out of our sick and our elderly while taking money out of frontline services. Just last week we saw the shocking price we have all paid for this when the private consortium Circle pulled out of running Hitchinbrooke Hospital because it was “no longer viable”, or to you and me because they couldn’t make enough money.
The Tories promised to protect our NHS but instead they’ve demoralised dedicated staff and tried to sell it off. This May we have the chance to kick them out and save our NHS - that’s why UNISON has proudly signed up to unionstogether’s Manifesto for Change which calls for an end to the sell-off of our NHS, a pay-rise for millions of working people, an end to the low pay economy and exploitation at work. Join me and sign up here http://www.manifestoforchange.com/.
Dave Prentis is the General Secretary of UNISON the union, Britain’s largest public-sector union with over 1.3million members in the NHS, local authorities, police and justice, universities and colleges.