NHS staff stage strike across city

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NHS workers stage strike action outside Liverpool's Royal University Hospital. Pic by Melissa McFarlane © JMU Journalism

NHS workers stage strike action outside Liverpool’s Royal University Hospital. Pic by Melissa McFarlane © JMU Journalism

Thousands of NHS workers walked out across Merseyside this morning in an ongoing protest over a pay rise of what they claim is potentially lower that one percent.

Six unions took part in today’s four-hour strike at healthcare buildings across Merseyside; Unison, Unite, the Royal College of Midwives, GMB, UCATT and the British Association of Occupational Therapists.

Up to 100 employees and supporters stood outside The Royal Liverpool University Hospital while passing drivers beeped car horns and cheered their support.

Some hospital workers said they were concerned that such a low pay rise could potentially affect the quality of patient care.

Stephanie Fleming, a Royal Hospital staff nurse of two years, told JMU Journalism: “We are fighting for patient safety as well as our financial stability. It’s not OK that really good workers, who are really good at their jobs, are considering walking away because they’re not getting what they need and what they deserve. It will disadvantage patients.”

Video report by Connor Dunn, JMU Journalism TV

Nathalie Nicholas, the council’s Deputy Chair for adult social care and health select committee told JMU Journalism: “As a local councillor and nurse I think today is an unfortunate day, not only for staff but also for patients due to the government not listening and disregarding health professionals.

“The government needs to listen and start valuing the staff of the NHS.”

There has not been strike action in the NHS for more than 30 years but some employees at the Royal believe now is the time to take a stand.

NHS workers stage strike action outside Liverpool's Royal University Hospital. Pic by Melissa McFarlane © JMU Journalism

NHS workers stage strike action outside Liverpool’s Royal University Hospital. Pic by Melissa McFarlane © JMU Journalism

Paul Summers, the Regional Organiser for Unison, told JMU Journalism: “An independent pay review body earlier this year recommended that all NHS workers should receive a one percent pay rise. One percent isn’t a lot and 60% [of workers] might not even get that.

“After today there will be further action, we have to send a message out to the public. This is your NHS and the people who work in the NHS care about the patients and the public and they deserve a pay rise.”

In response to the strikes, Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We are offering everyone one percent, but nearly 60% of NHS staff get an automatic pay rise through their increments of an average of three percent.

“The increment system is out-of-date and unfair and it gives higher percentage pay rises to higher paid workers. I think that is wrong and we have offered to negotiate with.”

Emergency departments and other urgent services remained fully functional throughout the strike, which ended at 11am.

Additional reporting by Melissa McFarlane

About Alice Kershaw, JMU Journalism