Anger among health workers over a lack of protective kit is stepping up pressure on unions to take action against the Tory Government responsible for a crumbling NHS.
Ambulance workers in London say they’re “Terrified” of carrying out their duties without the right protective kit. One frontline ambulance worker said: there is a “mutinous” mood due to lack of personal protective equipment (PPE). Nurses at an intensive care unit at a south London hospital have successfully won demands for proper PPE. They would not have gone into work without the kit.
Some groups of workers are taking action to demand bosses put their health ahead of profit.
6 Demands From NHS Staff to HelpTackle Coronavirus
We are a group of NHS doctors and nurses calling for support as we face a dangerous pandemic. At times like this, we rely on the NHS and social care more than ever. But they have both been dangerously weakened by years of cuts. The shortfall in staff, equipment and beds mean we’re not in the position we should be – and this will needlessly cost lives.
That’s why we’re calling on the UK Government and devolved governments to urgently take the following measures to protect NHS workers and the general public:
1) COVID-19 testing and personal protective equipment (PPE) must be available for all NHS and social care staff now
2) Those relying on social care (or ‘Direct Payments’) must be given immediate support if carers go sick
3) NHS support staff (including those outsourced) must receive at least living wage, paid sick leave for illness or self-isolation and an increase in statutory sick pay
4)Bring private health resources into public service without compensation to fight COVID-19 and aid NHS response
5)Make all information that the Government is basing its strategy on wholly available for public scrutiny
6)An immediate end to legislation enforcing eligibility checks and charging in the NHS, including those related to residency status or national origin, allowing all patients to use the NHS without fear
17,000 NHS beds have been cut since 2010, while private hospitals get 30% of their income from NHS patients on waiting lists. Tens of thousands of staff are outsourced from the NHS to private companies. Many have zero-hour contracts lacking the security of paid sick leave and face tough decisions to self-isolate and lose pay.
Undocumented migrants and others are told they are not eligible for free NHS care. Many fear approaching the NHS worried about unpayable bills or being reported to the Home Office. All of these are immediate dangers as we fight Coronavirus.
As NHS staff, we know the pressures on staff even before Coronavirus hit and we know the fears of outsourced workers and undocumented patients facing economic hardship. We must value our staff and ensure their security, and we must ensure our patients trust the NHS to treat them without reservation.
This pandemic shows that a thriving publicly owned and run NHS and social care sector are essential to ensure that all citizens have equal access to the best care. Indeed, a thriving state is essential for a thriving society.
Please sign the petition to strengthen the NHS response to Coronavirus.