Sussex Defend the NHS joins UNITE’s protest against 3 per cent pay rise

Sussex Defend the NHS will be out on the streets supporting NHS workers in their campaign for a decent pay rise once again. Tomorrow, Wednesday 25th August, they will be outside the Royal Sussex County Hospital from 12 until 2pm supporting the UNITE Union’s Day of Action.

Clare Jones, a local NHS nurse and UNITE staff rep. said: “A below-inflation pay offer is an insult for NHS workers and I fully support my Union’s recommendation to reject it. I am pleased that the unions are working together and saying ‘Not good enough’ to the Government.”

UNITE’s protest follows an NHS protest about pay last week organised by GMB Union.

The government has still only offered a 3 per cent pay rise which all of the major health unions say is totally inadequate. GMB calculated that, when the inflation rate was taken into account, it amounted to a pay rise of less than 0.6 per cent.

For the lowest paid workers in the NHS, it will mean less than the Real Living Wage (£9.50ph) and it’s less than the rise in the cost of housing, food and travel to work. It will widen the pay gap within the workforce, and low pay will make it more difficult for the NHS to recruit and retain staff.

Louise, a local mental health nurse in UNISON, said: “I am voting to reject the offer and I’m prepared to strike. I’m encouraging my colleagues to do the same.”

pay rise
Kelly Robbins

Kelly, a registered nurse from Brighton and GMB activist, explained why she and her union are campaigning for a 15 per cent pay rise. She said: “We have faced a decade of austerity so another real terms pay cut is just rubbing salt into the wound for staff.

“This year it’s actually less than a 1 per cent pay rise in real terms after 4 per cent predicted inflation, and we’ve already seen a 20 per cent pay cut since 2010.

“Also the NHS is chronically understaffed and this 3 per cent offer isn’t enough to persuade overworked current staff to stay, let alone recruit the new workers we desperately need.”

Sussex Defend the NHS sees this offer as part of the government’s efforts to undermine and privatise the NHS. They argue the government has used the pandemic as an excuse to speed up the process, wasting huge amounts of public money keeping private hospitals afloat, and funding an unworkable Track and Trace system. Instead, it should be fully funding the NHS including a 15% wage increase for its staff.

This article was also published in Brighton and Hove News.

Health Partnership seeks community ambassadors from ethnic backgrounds

NHS chiefs are looking to recruit 10 volunteers to be “community ambassadors for diverse ethnic communities” and help change future health and social care services.

The Sussex Health and Care Partnership, made up of councils and NHS trusts, said: “People from diverse ethnic communities experience some of the biggest health inequalities, even more since the start of the pandemic.

“It is really important to hear directly from people in those communities so that we can fully understand the challenges communities are facing and work together to create solutions.

Community Ambassadors

“Community ambassadors are part of an exciting new way of helping the Sussex Health and Care Partnership to understand what is important to your community and make sure local health and care services are what your community needs.

“We are looking for 10 members of the public from diverse ethnic communities to become community ambassadors.

“The role of a community ambassador might include engaging with your community, trying to make contact with people to talk to them about health and care services in the area and to find out their views (and) doing office-based work, giving advice and support to NHS programmes across Sussex, and helping to make decisions about health and care services.”

The partnership said: “We currently have 15 community ambassadors across Sussex and since our volunteers joined in October 2020, they have helped to influence services locally.

“Community Ambassadors have been active participants in eight interview panels for staff within the Sussex NHS Commissioners, providing an independent perspective on the panels.

“(They have) undertaken research on the views of the BAME communities on the flu vaccine and identified solutions to support the flu vaccination campaign and covid-19 immunisation programme, worked in partnership to develop a questionnaire for the pre-consultation engagement for the cardiology and ophthalmology services in East Sussex – over 200 questionnaires were completed by patients (and) worked collaboratively to design two questionnaires as part of the engagement with service users and practitioners for the Brighton and Hove mental health accommodation tendering process.”

The partnership added that they had “supported the development of the materials for the pre-consultation engagement for stroke (services) redesign in West Sussex, including the narrative, communications and engagement plan, patient survey questions”.

It also said: “Community ambassadors receive expenses and, in some situations, recognition payments are offered.”

The deadline for applications is Thursday 12 August.

Click here for more information about the role and how to apply.

This article was also published by Brighton and Hove News.