The independent London newspaper

Government must be shaken into rewarding NHS frontline

06 August, 2020

PM Boris Johnson

THERE was always a nauseating duplicity to government ministers clapping NHS workers during the pandemic.

These were the same politicians who had for years stripped the NHS of crucial funding, broken the service into tiny pieces and served it up to private companies.

The privatisation of the NHS, which caused havoc with the supply of PPE, twinned with the shortage of key equipment and ventilators, no doubt claimed many lives of patients and staff. And yet they stood there clapping away from their doorsteps.

Nurses and social care workers risked their lives on a daily basis during the pandemic and were rightly considered among the many frontline heroes of the Covid-19 crisis. Most were forced to improvise with bin liners and swimming goggles. One popular nurse, at University College Hospital, died from Covid-19. How quickly our government forgets.

We hope they will be forced to remember what happened in these months this week when thousands of workers take to the streets in protest.

Low-paid NHS workers have been left out of the recent deal for public sector workers. Porters and administrative staff have also been excluded.

New research by the Royal College of Nursing suggests that over half of the workforce is considering leaving due to poor pay and working conditions. In July, 13 healthcare unions called for immediate pay discussions to begin, adding that “applause and kind words” need to be turned into substance.

The vast majority of frontline nurses received a 1.65 per cent pay rise in April this year. This is not unusual.

The RCN has staged many protests outside hospitals in Camden over the past 10 years. Will the mammoth 480,000-strong 38 Degrees petition, delivered to Number 10 this week, wake up the government to the reality on the NHS frontline?

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in particular, should think about the care he was given when he found himself in hospital.

And where are those Brexit millions the NHS was promised?

PFI disaster

THE decision to evacuate the Chalcots, made in the wake of the Grenfell disaster, and on advice of the London Fire Brigade, was surely prudent. Who would take a gamble when so many lives were at stake?

But the report discussed at the Grenfell Inquiry this week does suggest that the cladding and window system may have been significantly safer than the one used in west London.

What is interesting to hear is the extent to which the Chalcots project became a blueprint for the works to the tower at Grenfell.

What other details of Camden’s disastrous PFI deal with Rydon could emerge in the coming weeks?

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