Nurses took to the picket line outside York Hospital today (Wednesday) and spoke of their poor wages and fears for patient safety.
It is the first time that York staff have gone on strike as part of the current pay dispute with the government.
Thousands of members of the Royal College of Nursing from across England are walking out today and tomorrow.
York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust says they are prioritising urgent treatment during the strikes, and have issued advice to patients.
In York, striking nurses held placards saying, ‘Support the strike like your life depends on it’ and ‘Understaffed, undervalued, underpaid’.
Claire McLoughlin, a nursing associate, told YorkMix that, for her, it was “all about patient safety”.
“The nurse to patient ratio is shocking, it’s not safe. And that’s why I’m here.
“It’s not about personal finance. For me, it’s it’s definitely about my job and keeping our patients safe.”
Staff in food banks
Colleague Maria Burns agreed. The opthalmic imaging technician said staff were spending less and less time with each patient.
But she added the pay was not enough for many nurses to live on.
“When a nurse comes out of uni, and they’ve got 50 grand debt, and they’re starting on 27 grand – wow.
“I’ve seen health care workers at a food bank in Tang Hall. It’s the saddest thing.
“They’re working, and especially with the fuel bills going up and things like that, not everybody’s comfortable.
“The wages that health cares get, and nurses get – how are any of us going to pay these bills?”
Claire said she had just qualified through the apprentice route at the trust – and she’s paid £12.25 an hour.
“Same as a McDonald’s burger flipper,” said Maria.
“That’s nothing against McDonald’s,” Claire said. “They’re getting a decent living wage.
“But they’re not saving lives. They aren’t responsible for ten to 15 patients per shift.”
‘Just be fair’
Maria’s message to the government was “just be fair”. Nurses were despondent at ministers’ response to their situation, she said.
“So two years ago, they were clapping for us now they want to sack us.”
They also feared that privatisation of the NHS was the hidden agenda. “Save the NHS. We need the NHS, the NHS is fantastic,” Maria said.
And she said they felt they had no option but to strike.
“We’ve got to show solidarity. We’ve got to show that we’ve had enough.
“You’re treating us like we’re worthless. You’re treating us like it’s all right for us to go in a hospital full of Covid and die.
“We were there. We were doing that. They weren’t – they were partying.”