UK Health Workers’ Strikes to Continue

While the government refused to discuss workers’ demands for months the wave of strikes and protests have led it to call nurses, ambulance workers, and physiotherapists to the negotiating table.

London protest on Feb. 25. (We Own It)

By Peoples Health Dispatch

Health workers’ strikes in England are set to continue on Saturday their  struggle to protect the National Health Service (NHS) will be backed by a general protest in support of more investment and better staffing. 

While the government refused to discuss workers’ demands for months the wave of strikes and protests have led it to call nurses, ambulance workers, and physiotherapists to the negotiating table.

In an attempt to limit the impact that intensifying industrial action would have on the already stressed NHS, the government first approached the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), and then other trade unions in the health sector, with an offer of a one-time payment to address the current cost of living crisis in the country.

Some trade unions took the government’s call for negotiation in good faith and put their action on hold, but others have been more reluctant to do so. The trade union Unite saw the government’s offer as not in line with the workers’ original demands. It claimed that a one-time payment would only temporarily mitigate the effects of the cost of living crisis, instead of an actual salary increase, which would extend beyond 2023.

While some health workers have begun negotiating, junior doctors are still planning to go ahead with their strike on Monday. Recent polls indicate that consultants might consider undertaking the same course of action in the following weeks.

Severe Staff Shortage 

The health workers’ actions come amid a massive health workforce crisis all over the U.K. Hundreds of workers continue to leave the profession because of burnout and exhaustion caused by deteriorating working conditions. This has added to pre-existing deficits, leading to shortages of several thousands of workers across health professions.

[Related: US Empire Seizes UK’s National Health Service]

In Scotland alone, there was a shortage of more than 6,000 nurses and midwives in September 2022, according to The Morning Star. The most recent data from the British Medical Association shows that NHS Scotland is short of 1,000 doctors, but the government is planning to employ only 800 in the next four years. 

The staff shortage, just like other effects of the pro-commercialization policies pursued over the past decades by different administrations, has caused obstacles in access to patient care. Over the past weeks, patients have reported long waiting times when trying to access the care they need, including emergency services and dental services. 

To prevent a further collapse of the NHS, which would likely lead to full blown privatization of healthcare in the U.K., patients and health workers will be mobilizing together on Saturday.

Dozens of left-wing organizations, health workers’ organizations like NHS Workers Say No, and initiatives like Patients Not Passports have announced that they will take part in the protest.

People’s Health Dispatch is a fortnightly bulletin published by the People’s Health Movement and Peoples Dispatch. For more articles and to subscribe to People’s Health Dispatch, click here.

This article is from Peoples Dispatch.

The views expressed may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.


6 comments for “UK Health Workers’ Strikes to Continue

  1. gcw919
    March 12, 2023 at 11:11

    It looks like the Brits could be on the way to healthcare privatization, ala the US, with its dysfunctional system. One can only say, be careful what you ask for.

  2. rgl
    March 10, 2023 at 22:45

    Sunak’s latest announcement was to state that the UK would ‘upgrade’ it’s nuke forces. Nurses can eat cake.

    I don’t know which is worse, the US or the UK. Neither nation is providing for it’s people, but boy oh boy the Ukraine is just raking it in! Something is definitely wrong with this picture.

    • Henry Smith
      March 11, 2023 at 09:58

      The UK gave £2.3Bn to Ukraine in 2022 and has pledged to give the same in 2023.
      The UK spent £344Bn on its Covid response, of that, at least, £4Bn was spent on useless PPE which the UK is now paying contractors to burn.
      The UK HS2 project was originally forecast to cost £33Bn, it is now, at least, six years behind schedule and forecast to cost North of £130Bn, and will only run between North London and Birmingham – 134 miles shaving about 25 minutes off existing times. Meanwhile the rest of the UK rail network is underfunded and suffering.
      The UK has more foodbanks than branches of McDonalds.
      271 people in the UK are classified as homeless of which around 5% are Military veterans.
      Many people in the UK (>45%) struggle to afford housing, heating, food and healthcare.
      And, the NHS is broken.

  3. Henry Smith
    March 10, 2023 at 18:21

    Unfortunately, the NHS is a money pit. No amount of extra funding will fix the problems associated with this bloated, incompetent, corrupt organisation. There is no doubt or argument that many of the front line NHS medical staff ARE underpaid; however, the problem is the excessive bureaucracy and woke culture that controls and drags down the organisation – this is the vampire squid that is destroying the NHS and swallowing all funding. Nothing less than a total root and branch clean out and reform will save the NHS- but that won’t happen. Thatcher along with the BMA started the rot, now Jeremy Hunt, Simon Stevens and the tory rabble are executing the ‘coup de grace’.
    NHS RIP 1948-2019.

    • JonnyJames
      March 11, 2023 at 11:06

      Excellent, then the final privatization can begin. We can get in on acquiring NHS assets for pennies on the pound. How much is NHS real-estate worth alone? Buy stocks and get in on the pillage.

      Then US private equity firms like Blackrock and insurance firms can further asset-strip the NHS and leave the UK with a rationed, private system where only wealthy people get adequate health care and everyone else dies 10 years on average younger – just like in the good ol USA. The US has the most expensive health care in the world, with the worst health outcomes. It’s a giant extortion racket. Your money, or you life? It’s worse than the Mafia

      With the NHS gone, the UK will be exactly like the USA. Then you can lose your regional accents and talk like a yank to make it complete. Hooray for privatised health care!

      • Valerie
        March 12, 2023 at 04:07

        And will we have to send cards to the school bus driver on “scool bus driver day” and all the other inane absurdities associated with the US.

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