Sheffield NHS staff to protest 'arrogant' Government treatment of frontline workers during the pandemic

NHS workers in Sheffield are set to take to the streets on the national health service’s 73rd birthday in protest of the Government’s treatment of its workers thoughout the pandemic.

Friday, 18th June 2021, 4:38 pm

The protest comes following recent reports that, during the pandemic, 77,000 NHS workers in the UK have caught Covid-19, and 1,500 have died.

And while front line workers were putting their lives at risk daily to help the thousands of people impacted by the virus, the Government repeatedly failed to provide the basic safety equipment they needed to do their jobs, campaigners say.

Sheffield is one of at least 47 cities and towns already planning to hold demonstrations on July 3.

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The Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield, which has been at the centre of the city's Covid response.

Sheffield Save Our NHS is joining with Sheffield Trades Council in organising the local action as part of the national campaigns’ initiative.

There will be a rally and demonstration starting at 12 noon in Barkers Pool on Saturday 3rd July, at which there will be speakers from Sheffield Trades Council, GMB and UNISON trade unions, NHS Workers Say No, the Labour Party and the Green Party.

Sheffield Trades Council is urging all trade union branches to mobilise for the action.

A spokesperson for Sheffield Save Our NHS said: “Anger not celebration will be the reaction of hundreds of thousands of NHS workers on the 73rd anniversary of the founding of the NHS on 5th July.

"That anger at the Government’s performance during the pandemic and the lack of total resources will have been fuelled by Matt Hancock’s arrogant performance before the House of Commons Committee.

“On one issue alone – the lack of adequate PPE for NHS workers – the Secretary of State for Health consistently lied.

"How could he claim that ‘there was no evidence I have seen that a shortage of PPE provision led to anyone dying of Covid’ and that ‘at a national level there was never a point where we ran out’.

"Is he not aware of what has happened in the hospitals which he is supposed to run? Did he miss what everyone else saw last year – TV pictures of doctors, nurses and support staff struggling with homemade aprons and masks? Does he not know the casualty figures amongst his own NHS staff?”

The lack of protection of NHS workers will be just one of the issues demonstrators will be protesting about, the group say.

The spokesperson added: “The pandemic has allowed the Government to massively increase the role of the private sector within the NHS, with billions of pounds paid out to private companies, many of which have failed to deliver on the provision of PPE, test and trace systems etc.

"At the same time, NHS workers have disgracefully been offered a derisory 1 per cent pay rise in reward for their sacrifices – presumably the Government think they can live off handclaps.

“Now they are using the pandemic as a smoke screen to drive through long-term changes, which will bring further privatisation and profits for companies such as Serco, Virgin and Centrine.

"The establishment of ‘Integrated Care Systems’ is already bringing companies such as Virgin into the decision-making structures of the NHS – they won’t be opposing further privatisation.”

Demands of the demonstration will include:

Reject the Government’s 1% NHS Pay Offer – Demand a substantial pay rise for all NHS and Care Staff

Reject the Public Sector Pay Freeze – Demand a substantial pay rise for All key workers

Ensure the safety of patients and workers

End privatisations - bring NHS services and other services back into public ownership

Fully fund the NHS and public services