NHS and health

A 15% pay rise for all NHS workers!

Above: the protest in Brighton Mark Boothroyd, Unite branch secretary at Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospitals in London, and an organiser of the NHS pay protests on 8 August, talked with Sacha Ismail from Solidarity. The movement grew organically out of NHS workers’ anger at being excluded from a public-sector pay rise, after all the sacrifices made during Covid. Some workers set up a Facebook group called “NHS Workers Say No to Pay Inequality”; it hit 50,000 in a few days, it’s now 78,000, overwhelmingly NHS staff. The people who set it up called for demonstrations on 8 August: I think the call...

Health and social care must both be public

Article and video. The Guardian reports a Department for Health and Social Care spokesperson saying there is “no foundation” to claims that the government plans to bring social care under the umbrella of the NHS. But rumours are widespread enough that the denial comes at the end of a longish article on the claims. The Guardian has since covered the possibility fairly extensively, as have other media outlets. We want social care made a free public service, publicly-owned and provided, with its staff on secure public-sector pay and conditions. Health and care campaigners are divided on the general issue of NHS/care integration. Last year’s Labour conference voted both that “our publicly-owned NHS needs to be fully integrated with Social Care systems which should all… be public”; and that “consequences of marrying social care to the NHS include medicalisation, isolation, indignity, maltreatment; bringing social care under a struggling NHS umbrella is not the answer.” Most campaigners are to one degree or another sceptical, at least on the basis of what it would mean when social care is extensively privatised, radically fragmented and in a partial state of collapse. “We have to say that the state of social care, its fragmentation and privatisation, means that at present there is nothing acceptable for the NHS to integrate with”, as Keep Our NHS Public’s John Lister put it at a recent conference on social care. We need more debate in the labour movement about the relationship between social care and the NHS, going beyond undefined buzzwords like “integration”. But no relationship will work well unless on the basis of the kind of policy Labour Party conference has called for – comprehensive public ownership of care.

NHS workers' day of action 8 August

Over thousand nurses, other health workers, and supporters joined a protest on 29 July which marched from St Thomas's Hospital to rally outside Downing Street. Speakers highlighted support for Black Lives Matter, and the demonstration "took the knee" to mark that support. The main theme was the demand for a pay rise for NHS workers. The protest was organised by the Unite branch at Guy's and St Thomas's, with Nurses United UK and Keep our NHS public, but drew contingents from other hospitals too. St Thomas's nurse and Unite activist Dave Carr drew loud applause from the rally when he called on...

Nothing for nurses

On 20 July the Tory government said it would accept the recommendations of the Pay Review Boards and give teachers in England a 3.1% rise, dentists and doctors 2.8%, police and prison officers 2.5%. Nurses and junior doctors get nothing new because they are in multi-year pay deals. In France, health workers’ protests have won special pay rises for all health workers and a promise to expand government health spending. • Join health workers' demonstration on 29 July: from 5pm at St Thomas' Hospital, to march to Downing Street at 6pm. Facebook event.

Isolation pay for all!

To suppress Covid-19, and avoid or minimise a resurgence, we need to win decent isolation pay and sick pay for all workers. Protect your workmates; public health test-and-tracing; work or full pay for all! Editorial article and video. In the Ministry of Justice, the United Voices of the World union has won an agreement with the contractor OCS for full sick pay for workers covering time taken off since April, for a period of up to 14 days. In care homes, after months of campaigning, some 40% now give isolation pay; the government has set up a fund explicitly designed to allow isolation pay for all workers; and a government report has recognised officially that absence of isolation pay increases the Covid-19 death toll.

The UK has the lowest sick pay of all rich countries

On average, across all the 34 OECD (richer) countries, workers receive about 70% of their last wage as statutory (or mandatory) sick pay (SSP). It is as high as 100% in a significant number of countries. This sick pay has to be paid by employers for a period of time. In the UK it is up to 28 weeks. But the UK’s £95.85 per week statutory level is now the lowest, as a percentage of earnings, of all OECD countries. In the UK as elsewhere some workers are covered by agreements with employers which provide much better sick pay, but the low level of statutory sick pay is a scandal. Since the...

Make Labour fight for “grand schemes”!

Both the government and the scientists who criticise it say that finding people with Covid-19 symptoms, testing to confirm, tracing their close contacts, and getting sufferers and contacts to self-isolate, is central to controlling the virus. Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds told the Marr show on Sunday 5 June: “I’m not going to say to you that Labour is going to be advocating some massive grand scheme right at this moment when social care is in crisis”. But we need grand schemes exactly at this time of crisis! The Tories’ floundering has imposed a massive grand Covid-19 death toll, threatens a massive grand risk of a whole new second wave of the virus, and is generating massive grand job cuts.

£10,000 for maternity care

Maternity Action has lost its legal challenge to the scheme of charging destitute migrant women for NHS maternity care. Following an oral hearing on 1 July, the High Court denied the charity permission to proceed with a judicial review. It is considering whether to appeal. The case was brought by Maternity Action on behalf of a woman who was charged more than £10,000 for vital maternity care. Charging migrants for maternity care deters, delays, or denies access to healthcare for pregnant migrants, those giving birth, or those who need postnatal treatment. This is particularly dangerous as many...

Nationalise social care!

Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, has called for politicians to “decisively answer” how social care can be reorganised to deal with the problems exposed by the Covid-19 crisis. Stevens is no left-winger. He spent the best part of a decade as Chief Executive of US private healthcare corporation United Health. He has defended and promoted privatisation in the NHS. But so glaring is the problem of a radically fractured and privatised social care system that in his interview with the BBC he hinted at some kind of public ownership: “ If you take back the history coming out of the...

Private hospitals: don't subsidise, nationalise!

According to the Financial Times (16 June) the government is considering a longer term deal with private hospitals. In late March, as the first wave of Covid 19 was on the rise, the government worried that health resources in the UK would be overwhelmed, as they had been in Italy. The government made a deal with private hospitals — a rolling deal that can be terminated. The deal gives the NHS access to the facilities and staff of private hospitals. The government pays all overheads, including lending commitments and rent, for the private hospitals at an estimated cost of £100-120m per week...

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