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‘It’s a slap in the face’ - NHS staff protest lack of pay rise

PUBLISHED: 14:41 08 August 2020 | UPDATED: 14:41 08 August 2020

Protesters marched from Christchurch Park and through Ipswich town centre Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Protesters marched from Christchurch Park and through Ipswich town centre Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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Campaigners marched through Ipswich town centre in protest of plans not to award NHS staff an immediate pay rise as they fight the coronavirus pandemic.

The protest circled back to Christchurch Park, where 540 flowers were laid Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNThe protest circled back to Christchurch Park, where 540 flowers were laid Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Many healthcare workers, including nurses, are currently in the final year of a three-year deal and are due to receive a pay rise from the government next April.

But unions and their members are urging the government to reward NHS staff for their commitment during the Covid-19 crisis by bringing forward the increase by a year.

Last month, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a pay rise of between 2-3% for around 900,000 public sector workers, including teachers and doctors.

However, nurses and junior doctors were excluded from the announcement as their salaries are based on contracts that are not yet up for renewal.

Nurses are due for a pay rise next April Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNNurses are due for a pay rise next April Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

In response, socially-distant campaigners wearing blue gathered in Christchurch Park on Saturday morning before marching through Ipswich town centre.

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The march circled back into Christchurch Park, where 540 flowers were laid down to commemorate every NHS worker that has died with coronavirus since the outbreak began.

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The protest in Ipswich was one of many held across towns and cities in the UK which were backed by health service unions and campaign groups, such as Keep Our NHS Public.

Sue, a Suffolk-based nurse who helped organise the event, said a pay rise would help ensure people do not leave the NHS and create a health worker shortage.

She said: “It’s not about other people getting a pay rise and not us, as everyone in the public sector has done an amazing job to keep the country going during the pandemic.

“But since 2010 we have not had a pay rise. We feel it’s about fairness.

Other public sector workers have already been guaranteed a pay rise Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNOther public sector workers have already been guaranteed a pay rise Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

“There have been highly-experienced nurses who have been running wards during the crisis.

“The clapping every week was such a morale boost. Every week Downing Street clapped for us, but clapping won’t pay the bills. It’s a slap in the face.

“The pandemic has been really difficult and everyone has had to adapt. There have been nurses and staff who have left their homes and made huge sacrifices, such as not being able to see their children.

“This is about protecting our NHS. It’s not because we are in it for the money - we are in it because we love our jobs.”

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