Strike action at hospital as staff turn to food banks

STRUGGLING staff at Worthing Hospital have had to turn to food banks as NHS workers took further strike action over pay this week.

Tony Hill at the piano, rehearsing for his All Aboard concert for Marlipins Museum
Tony Hill at the piano, rehearsing for his All Aboard concert for Marlipins Museum

Hospital staff took part in a four-hour strike and held a picket outside the hospital on Monday morning.

Unison organised the national strike in a bid to ensure all staff get the one per cent pay rise recommended by the NHS PayReview Body.

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Caroline Fife, Unison regional organiser, said: “I have spoken to staff who are missing meals and having to fill up on cereal instead of having a hot meal. Staff told me at Worthing that they knew staff were using food banks.”

The Government has proposed that only those at the top of their pay bands will receive a one-off one per cent pay rise. This won’t continue in future years and will not affect their hourly rate so won’t affect overtime or any unsocial hours worked.

Several midwives joined the action and said the future of their profession was under threat because of the long hours and low pay.

Sharon Playle, 53, said: “We are trying to safeguard the future of the profession.

“We can’t expect people to come into this profession when you can’t earn enough to pay the bills.

“It’s a wonderful job and a privilege to do it but we have a lot of responsibility and I think it’s fair and right to get a one per cent pay rise.”

Unison also wants the government to implement the living wage for low-paid staff, an above inflation pay rise for 2015-16, and a commitment to future pay rises that will restore the value of NHS pay.

Sharon added that none of her colleagues had walked out of work to join the protest but they took part if they had a day off. We do our job because we love it and we would never put any women in danger,” she said.

Jane Sheppard, a nurse, said she knew some nurses who worked in one hospital but did agency work at another to earn more money but she wouldn’t do that because she wanted to be loyal to Worthing.

“The amount of money they spend on agency nurses compared to their own staff is unbelievable and the bill is rising. Agency nurses cost double so if they can afford to pay them why can’t they afford to give us the one per cent pay rise?”

The strike was followed by a week of action between November 25 and November 30 when staff agreed to work to rule and not do unpaid overtime.