Category Archives: Nurses

NHS across UK spends £10bn on temp staff because Tories won’t pay staff properly

The pay trick: by reducing pay for medical staff on NHS payrolls, Tories have pushed them out, making it impossible for the service to cope with demand – and then they have paid private agency workers huge amounts to cover the shortfall in staff. If they simply paid NHS staff an equitable amount, the problem would go away.

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Ministers are facing calls to tackle the NHS’s chronic lack of staff as figures reveal that the bill for hiring temporary frontline workers has soared to more than £10bn a year.

Hospitals and GP surgeries across the UK are paying a record £4.6bn for agency personnel and another £5.8bn for doctors and nurses on staff to do extra “bank” shifts to plug gaps in rotas.

Widespread short staffing has increasingly forced the service in all four home nations to hand colossal sums to employment agencies to hire stand-in workers. In England alone, the bill for agency staff, particularly nurses and GPs, has risen from £3bn to £3.5bn over the past year – a 16% rise.

The NHS in England currently has 42,306 vacant nursing posts.

There’s a simple reason the NHS is having to employ agency workers at exorbitant cost: the Tory government insists on under-paying regular staff.

Junior doctors now need a 35 per cent pay increase to reach real-terms parity with what they were getting in 2010 when the Tories came into government and started slashing everybody else’s pay (but not their own).

Nurses are suffering a similar shortfall.

And NHS bosses have the nerve to blame problems in the service on the strike action these dedicated medical professionals are having to take, simply to raise awareness of the plight that they – and the fat Tories in Westminster – have put them in!

With wages that are insufficient to cover their living costs, doctors and nurses are having to seek alternative employment – most commonly with the higher-paying health services of other countries or, ironically, with the agencies that are charging the NHS so much (including fat profits for their bosses, of course).

The answer, of course, is to bring doctors’ and nurses’ pay back up to what it should be. With agency fees so high, such a decision should pay for itself.

But the Tories don’t want to do that.

Conclusion: the Conservative government is deliberately starving the NHS of staff. They intend to destroy its ability to cope with public need in order to force people to pay for private, less effective and less professional treatment.

That is not the action of a government that has the best interests of the UK’s citizens at heart.

Remember it at the next election.


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NHS nurses could strike again in the new year

Nurses striking in April this year: by April next year, they may be on strike again.

It never rains but it pours… or, at this time of year, it never snows but it blizzards.

Rishi Sunak hasn’t sorted out the problems facing him currently, but now it seems troubles from the past are coming back to haunt him:

Rishi Sunak has been warned he faces the prospect of more strike action in the new year unless the government “corrects” a decision to hand nurses one of the lowest pay rises in the public sector.

Nursing leaders said it was an “absolute disgrace” that their members had not been prioritised in the last year, adding that they would consider reballoting members over strikes if necessary once they had guided the NHS through winter.

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The warning follows a pay deal for NHS consultants that came on top of rise that was already larger than that offered to nurses.

Prof Nicola Ranger, the chief nurse at the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), told the Observer it was “naive of the government to think that this dispute is over”, after a year in which nurses held a series of walkouts in protest at pay and conditions.

She said nurses had rejected the 5% pay offer and lump sum that was eventually forced on them. Further strikes were avoided only after the union narrowly missed a legal threshold for strike action, which requires 50% of members to cast a vote.

Perhaps Sunak and former Health Secretary Steve Barclay should have had more respect for nurses when they were imposing their derisory pay rise.

Source: NHS nurses could strike again in the new year | Nursing | The Guardian


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Tory lies: Steve Barclay wants you to think nurses are getting a pay rise

Bare-faced: how Steve Barclay has the nerve to spit out falsehoods about valuing nurses and giving them a pay rise must be beyond the understanding of anybody with a brain.

There can’t be many spectacles as ugly as that of a Tory minister crowing about giving a pay cut to nurses who kept us all alive during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Here’s Steve Barclay:

In fact, while Barclay enjoys real-terms pay parity with what MPs had back in 2010 plus his very large ministerial pay packet, many nurses have suffered a real-terms pay cut of 20 per cent during the same period, meaning they already effectively work one day a week for free.

On top of that, he’s now giving them a pay increase that is only just over half the current rate of inflation – meaning it is a pay cut.

This Site explained what Barclay and the Tories were doing, back in April. Read it here.

It seems that members of the Royal College of Nursing simply lost their ability to continue striking for better pay. Remember, they have been working one day a week for free, and that has to have an impact on their ability to resist further attacks on their pay; they don’t have the savings to support strike action. Many of them were already forced to visit food banks before the strikes even began.

Barclay’s claim to “hugely value” nurses’ work can be interpreted as nothing more than a bare-faced lie.

If he valued them, he would be offering them at least the same pay deal he gets – parity with the past. If he really valued them, he would offer more (because – remember – MPs receive significantly better pay than nurses).

Did he applaud them like a filthy hypocrite on Thursday nights during pandemic lockdown in 2020?


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Royal College of Nursing halts strike action after too few nurses voted on it

A nurse: this person will receive less pay than she needs to live on, after the Royal College of Nursing’s latest ballot on strike action failed to receive the necessary proportion of votes to be considered indicative.

It has just been reported (on the BBC’s Politics Live) that the Royal College of Nursing is giving up its strike action for better pay and conditions – because too few of its members took part in a ballot on whether to go on.

The RCN has a threshold of 50 per cent of its members taking part in a ballot before its result can be taken as indicative and only 43 per cent voted in the latest poll, it seems.

So these nurses must now capitulate to demands from the Tory government that they accept a pay cut (it’s a rise that doesn’t even meet current inflation levels, let alone counter the enormous pay cuts inflicted by the Tories since they came into office in 2010).

For the National Health Service, this means more nurses will quit and find work elsewhere in the UK, or perhaps in other countries (Politics Live is now discussing doctors moving to Australia).

That will create more strain for those who are left and will push the health service closer to the collapse that the Tories want, in order to open the floodgate for a fully-privatised, US-style sickness industry that will keep you as ill as possible in order to make the biggest profits for the “health” companies and their shareholders.

And you can’t expect a Labour government to improve matters; Keir Starmer, Wes Streeting and the other Labour leaders are all in the pockets of the healthcare corps as well.

The best advice This Site can give you now – especially if you life in England, is that offered by Neil Kinnock in the 1980s:

“Don’t get sick.”


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The news in tweets: June 18, 2023

Public support for striking nurses higher now than when action began, RCN says

Government quietly awards travel firm £1.6bn contract for asylum barges and accommodation

DWP criticised in parliament for ‘hiding’ information on starvation death

Labour reveals two-candidate shortlist in North East mayoral race

DWP’s ‘shocking’ refusal to allow benefit appeal for woman who was sectioned


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Why doesn’t England have a requirement for nurse staffing levels, like Wales?

Watching Royal College of Nursing chief exec Pat Cullen addressing nurses in Brighton, I just found out that the Welsh NHS has a requirement for a full complement of nurses to be on duty at any time, with nurses also required to highlight if this does not happen.

Why isn’t this a necessity in the English NHS?

The answer should be clear: the required levels would not be reached.

Always, Health Secretary Steve Barclay tries to dodge his duties.

You can bet he won’t be following Wales’s shining example any time soon.


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Nurses strike again – in the face of right-wing propaganda

Nurses have gone back to the picket lines, striking for better pay and conditions in the NHS in a 28-hour strike that ends at midnight on May Day (May 1).

It was supposed to be a full two-day strike, ending at 8pm on May 2, but Health Secretary Steve Barclay had the part of it taking place on May 2 halted via the courts.

He said that, since nurses were balloted for strike action on November 2 last year and such mandates last for six months, no strike action could take place on May 2. But that would imply that the ballot, its count, and the announcement of the result all took place on the first second of November 2 – which is of course impossible. So This Writer’s opinion is that the High Court has sided with the wrong side (again).

And look how some of our (hem-hem) friends in the media have responded:

Notice the references to “walking out of wards”, to nurses from intensive care and A&E have joined the strike, having “rejected” a government pay offer (without mentioning that it’s a huge pay cut), and the repeated question, having passed these comments: “Do they have your support?”

To which the answer can only be:

Yes, they bloody well do!

Nurses have taken a de facto 20 per cent pay cut since the Tories took power, meaning they work one day a week for free. This has put many off staying in the NHS, meaning those who remain have to do more work than they should, to make up the shortfall.

This has caused morale to plummet and has created mental and physical health problems for nurses.

This in turn has worsened the problem of nurses leaving.

And this has worsened the quality of the care provided by the NHS.

Nurses are striking because they want to halt the destruction of the UK’s greatest institution that is being deliberately caused by the Conservative government, personified by Health Secretary Steve Barclay.

He, by the way, appears to have been telling falsehoods – firstly by saying strike action by members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) is “disrespectful”…

Speaking to broadcasters yesterday, Mr Barclay said, “I think this strike is premature and is disrespectful to those trade unions that will be meeting on Tuesday.”

… and secondly by saying he has been talking with the RCN over the weekend:

So, once again, nurses are fighting for our health service while their despotic paymasters take to the media to falsely claim that they are harming it, and to lie that they are trying to resolve the situation when they are not.

Remember: these Tories were all-too-keen to stand on their doorsteps and applaud nurses who worked – and in some cases died – during the Covid-19 crisis. Perhaps they did so because it didn’t cost any money. Now they are treating the same people like traitors.

Who are you going to side with – the hard-working nurses who want the NHS to be the best health service possible, or the lying Tories who are actively trying to ruin it?


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A ‘fair and reasonable’ pay offer for nurses? You’ll get psittacosis listening to these Tory parrots!

Mark Harper: like a parrot, he’s repeated endlessly that the Tory pay cut for nurses is “fair and reasonable”. You’ll need a nurse to treat you for psittacosis after listening too much to him!

Tory ministers have been doing the media rounds, telling us how “fair and reasonable” their latest real-terms pay cut for nurses is.

Watch the clip of Mark Harper, sitting on his massive ministerial salary (that has risen at a rate within one per cent of the rate of inflation) and trying to convince Sky’s Sophie Ridge that a pay rise that’s half inflation is “decent”:

Now listen to the ever-brilliant Peter Stefanovic, telling us the facts that people like Harper don’t want us to know.

But still the Tories adhere to their “Big Lie” philosophy – tell a lie often enough and enough people will believe it.

Psittacosis, also known as parrot fever, is an infectious disease that people can contract from the tropical avians, with flu-like symptoms accompanied by a kind of pneumonia.

The most anybody can expect to get from listening to these Tory parrots is a hefty dose of that!


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‘Darkest day’ for UK nursing as High Court cuts short May 2 strike

‘Talks not courts’: RCN general secretary Pat Cullen outside the High Court in London.

The High Court has upheld a government claim that a nurses’ strike planned for the Bank Holiday weekend is partly unlawful.

The Royal College of Nursing had promised to abide by any decision, meaning that strike action from midnight until 8pm on May 2 has been called off.

So the government that clapped nurses during the Covid-19 crisis has now taken them to court – and took £35k in costs from the RCN – for having the temerity to ask to be paid enough money to live on.

Nurses outside the High Court in London made the point by brandishing placards bearing the question: “Who takes their heroes to court?”

The Tories are already pushing their narrative that nurses are being selfish by denying NHS patients “the service they deserve”.

But the simple fact is that nobody deserves a health service that is on its knees because of constant de-funding by the Tory government that is driving good, qualified nursing staff away in search of work that pays enough for them to survive.

The Tory rhetoric is nothing more than emotional blackmail, which is a form of bullying.

Health Secretary Steve Barclay is already being accused of intimidating his staff. His treatment of nurses indicates a precedent for those accusations.

RCN general secretary Pat Cullen made the obvious point in her response to the ruling:

Cullen, who joined nurses outside the court in a demonstration on Thursday morning, said she accepted the ruling but claimed it could rally her members to support further strikes.

She said: “The full weight of government gave ministers this victory over nursing staff. It is the darkest day of this dispute so far – the government taking its own nurses through the courts in bitterness at their simple expectation of a better pay deal.

“Nursing staff will be angered but not crushed by today’s interim order. It may even make them more determined to vote in next month’s reballot for a further six months of action. Nobody wants strikes until Christmas – we should be in the negotiating room, not the courtroom today.”

The High Court hearing was unusual in that the RCN did not send lawyers to represent nurses, saying it did not want to “give credence” to Barclay’s legal action and the trade union legislation on which it was based.

Instead it relied on a witness statement by Ms Cullen – which Mr Justice Linden told the court suggested she had accepted the government’s legal position. He suggested that much of it had been written for a “different audience”.

The RCN is set to re-ballot its members next month, seeking a legal mandate to continue its strike action from June to December.

Will nurses be discouraged by the court ruling – or will they be infuriated by the government’s intransigence and demand redoubled strike action, simply to get a fair rate of pay?

Source: Nurses to cut short strike as court rules second day of action unlawful | Nursing | The Guardian


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Barclay’s lawsuit against striking nurses is just one example of his contempt for the NHS

Steve Barclay: he holds NHS staff in contempt, even though he’s surrounded by kit that he can’t make work – and they can.

It’s as though NHS employees – doctors, nurses or whoever – are the children of an abusive parent.

And Health Secretary Steve Barclay’s mistreatment of (among others) nurses has not gone unnoticed.

So the general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing has condemned as “disgraceful” his decision to “bully” nurses into submission with legal action against their next two-day strike.

Her response echoes that of an abused family member who has taken too much and refuses to accept any more…

The leader of the Royal College of Nursing has said a legal attempt by the health secretary to block next weekend’s strike in England is “frightening for democracy and very frightening for trade unionism”.

Pat Cullen, general secretary of the RCN, said it was “disgraceful” that Steve Barclay was attempting to thwart the strike via the courts, and said nurses would “not be bullied into silence”.

“We have instructed our legal counsel and we will stand up for nursing. This is about standing up not just for nursing but for trade unionism and for democracy,” she told the Observer.

“It’s utterly disgraceful that he [Barclay] would prefer to use money to challenge nurses than to pay them, at a time when those nurses are struggling to pay their bills. He is using public funding, patients’ money, to challenge nurses through the court.”

She added that a claim by Barclay that the government’s legal action sought to protect nurses who could “otherwise be asked to take part in unlawful activity that could in turn put their professional registration at risk” was a “blatant threat”. “He is trying to frighten nursing staff. That registration is their livelihood,” she said.

It’s actually insulting. Barclay is playing the ‘kindly uncle’ character, who fakes concern for youngsters in his charge while actually subjecting them to harm.

Sadly, his attitude is rubbing off on members of the general public, who are also starting to treat NHS staff as government property, in the same way some children have to comply with parental wishes (whether they are benign or not – and in this case they’re malign).

And what’s the upshot of all this abuse?

Let’s skip across to see what’s happening to doctors:

Like a child suffering mental health problems as a result of living in an abusive household?

You may be thinking that the comparison is false. Doctors and nurses are, after all, highly-trained professionals who could merrily move out to any other health organisation in this or other countries.

But the UK’s National Health Service has an emotional hold over almost everybody in the UK (Tory MPs and private health executives/shareholders excepted). It inspires almost familial loyalty in that respect.

That is a great strength in retaining staff – but also part of the problem because it gives Tories carte blanche to cut pay and otherwise abuse staff, which leads to the mental health problems that we’re seeing too.

It is vital to point out how this demonstrates the contempt in which the Tories in general – and Barclay in particular – hold NHS staff.

Without that understanding, it would be hard to understand why the Tories are obstructing pay negotiations the way they are.

Source: Nurses’ leader blasts Steve Barclay over ‘disgraceful’ use of legal action to stop strike | Nursing | The Guardian


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