NHS National Day of Action: Sheffield health workers to join protests demanding £20bn 'emergency funding'

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NHS workers in Sheffield will take to the streets on Saturday to protest about service cuts they claim have 'pushed the staff to breaking point.'

The demonstration, which is part of the National Day of Action protests on Saturday, February 26, will see frontline workers gather to demand that the Government invests more in the health service.

Sheffield Save Our NHS (SSONHS) said Sheffield, like other parts of the country, has suffered from cuts in services, beds and staff shortages, with 64,000 patients on waiting lists at the Sheffield Teaching Hospitals Trust at the end of 2021.

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According to reports, out of 271,174 appointments made in Sheffield GP surgeries in December, 18,215 occurred more than 28 days after the booking was made, a rate of 6.7 percent that ranks Sheffield as the 'worst' in the country.

Rally in support of NHS workers at barkers Pool in Sheffield last yearRally in support of NHS workers at barkers Pool in Sheffield last year
Rally in support of NHS workers at barkers Pool in Sheffield last year

The city, the group said, has also suffered from the impact of privatisation, both with the outsourcing of some staff such as security to the failure of PFI schemes, referring to the two-year closure of Hadfields wing at the Northern General because of construction issues.

The group added that this has led to NHS staff having to work for agencies and private companies for better pay and conditions.

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The group said: "Now, it is threatened with the prospect of private companies being represented in the new organisations being set up to run the NHS through the Health and Care Bill."

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Midwives in Sheffield, who will participate in the demonstration, have also raised conerns about the downgrade the Jessop Wing maternity unit received from Care Quality Commission inspectors due to what it described as 'chronic understaffing'.

They said: "As midwives in Sheffield, we have seen the struggles of our colleagues and struggled ourselves through chronic understaffing, made worse by the pandemic, which resulted in our treasured maternity unit here being put into special measures by the CQC.

"We believe maternity care in Sheffield is good but we desperately need more staff, more resources and fair pay to keep it that way.

"With the cost of living increasing, a fair pay deal is even more important for our vital services."

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The demonstration, organised jointly with NHS Workers Say No!, will also demand the Government approves the ‘minimum emergency funding’ of £20 billion to enable the NHS to cope this winter.

The £20bn funding, say campaigners, will help cover the cost of the maintenance backlog to repair crumbling buildings and replace clapped-out equipment, which has soared to £9.2bn.

Meanwhile, £8bn in capital and revenue is needed to expand mental health services to cope with the increased demand since the pandemic, they say, and £3bn is required to bring the 5,000 beds lost during the pandemic in 2020 back into use.

Campaigners added: "This emergency funding is only the first step in restoring the NHS to health. It is not just the pandemic which has hit the NHS but years of austerity cuts which has left it ill-equipped to face such a crisis."

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They are also calling on the Government to invest in a fully publicly-owned NHS and guarantee free healthcare for future generations, in addition to providing fair pay to staff to avoid staffing shortages.

The demonstration will be held at noon outside Sheffield Town Hall. Speakers will include NHS workers, trade unionists and local campaigners.