The demonstration was organised by Unison – a union that represents NHS staff including healthcare assistants, radiographers, porters, midwives and paramedics.
Last month, the government announced a one per cent pay rise for NHS staff. In response, Unison described it as ‘neither a wage rise, nor an acceptable way to treat health workers’ during the pandemic.
Unison called on the government to give all NHS workers a pay rise of ‘at least £2,000’.
On Thursday (April 1), demonstrators gathered outside the Conquest Hospital and Eastbourne DGH from 12pm and 1.30pm to protest the proposed pay rise, the same day NHS staff were due to receive their pay rise. This has been delayed while the pay rise is reviewed.
Some carried banners which called the pay rise ‘an insult to NHS staff’.
Jonathan Lee, the secretary of Unison’s Hastings and Eastbourne healthcare branch, said: “The one per cent is, in real terms, a pay cut when you take into account the expected inflation rate increase. In Scotland, they have decided to backdate a pay increase of 5.4 per cent for the lowest earners and 4 per cent for general staff, plus a £500 payment which is essentially to say thank you. But there has been nothing like that for NHS workers in England.
“We’d argue that even the 5.4 per cent and 4 per cent rises are not really satisfactory. NHS staff have lost around 15 per cent pay in real terms over the past ten years. This pay rise doesn’t come close to making up for the money they lost before this pandemic.
“NHS staff deserve to be properly rewarded for their work during this pandemic. They can’t pay the bills with claps.”
Mr Lee said 27 people attended the protest, which underwent a risk assessment and was designed to abide by social distancing rules. He said some people chose not to attend the protest, choosing instead to put up posters at home in opposition to the one per cent pay rise.