Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1102/31389
Fund NHS and pay rise now
- For a 15% pay rise and mass hiring programme
- For democratic planning, not privatised chaos
- Beth Webster, NHS nurse, Cardiff West Socialist Party
Boris Johnson has finally admitted that we are heading into a second Covid wave. NHS workers deserve a pay rise and need more resources to cope.
At least 13 million people are now back under local lockdown, with an R rate as high as 1.4 in some areas. NHS and social care workers are preparing ourselves for a repeat of the last peak, with staff, PPE, and equipment shortages - but all on top of winter pressures and the flu season.
In some hospitals, winter pressure wards have already opened. The Welsh health minister Vaughan Gething has proudly announced 400 beds are opening in Cardiff's biggest hospital in preparation for winter. Unfortunately, hospital staff have been told there won't be extra staff to go with them; they'll be pulled from existing wards which are already short.
If the capitalist establishment learnt anything from the first wave, it's ignoring it. Short-term, media-friendly 'solutions' without substance are all Westminster and the devolved governments are willing to offer us. Health and care workers and our patients will pay the price yet again.
UK health secretary Matt Hancock has said a second national lockdown will be the public's fault. Nothing to do with his government's catalogue of failings, such as the collapsing Covid testing system! NHS workers are still only tested when symptomatic, despite earlier promises we would be tested weekly to protect patients and colleagues.
Capitalism has no way of resolving the economic uncertainty either. A system where hospitals are crying out for more staff while dole queues are lengthening has to go.
Why isn't the government putting emergency funding for training, jobs and facilities in place? Only a socialist system, based on democratic planning and public ownership, could guarantee what's necessary.
Capitalist politicians may be ignoring the lessons of the first wave, but workers are not.
Many NHS workers are organising around the demand for a 15% pay rise, nationally and locally in our own hospitals. This has pushed the unions to adopt bolder pay claims.
NHS workers participating in this campaign have learnt that if we struggle together, we can have an impact. If there are PPE shortages and safety issues again, an immediate fightback would be easier to organise.
The doctors' union BMA is surveying members in preparation for balloting for industrial action over pay. Other health and public sector unions should be following them.
We've learnt that we can't rely on our current governments and many of our current union leaders. Only our collective strength and action will get us through the Covid crisis.
In The Socialist 23 September 2020:
Why I joined