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NHS staff have smeared themselves in fake blood and carried placards as they demanded a 15% pay rise in a protest outside Downing Street.
Workers in hospital scrubs with their roles emblazoned on them chanted and pretended to lie down dead as they call for “pay justice now”, following their work during the coronavirus pandemic.
Pictures of the prime minister and health secretary Matt Hancock with their heads covered in blood were also held by protesters, who yelled: “Clapping is not enough.”
Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced in July that the government was giving nearly 900,000 public sector workers a 3.1% pay rise due to their “vital contribution” amid the pandemic.
The increase includes doctors, dentists and teachers – but not nurses or junior doctors due to separate deals agreed to in 2018 and 2019.
One protester, critical care nurse Dave Carr, said that NHS staff were struggling on their current pay and needed a 15% pay rise
He said: “We can’t do our jobs properly because of the shortages there are in nursing staff and all grades of staff within the NHS. My pay has been eroded by about 20% over the last 10 years.
“I earn more or less the same as I earned 10 years ago. I’m a senior, senior nurse in critical care and I’m finding it difficult to survive. If you’re looking at young nurses or young health workers with families it’s even doubly difficult.
‘But if you’re looking at our ancillary staff – our porters, our cleaners – who are on the demonstration, it’s almost impossible for people to live…
“We’re on our knees. We’re absolutely on our knees.”
Dave praised NHS staff for doing “absolutely everything that we could” for patients to get “the best possible care” during the pandemic.
He added: “I’m not proud of how the government handled the pandemic.”
The protests were organised as part of the ‘NHS Pay 15’ movement, which has seen thousands of workers demonstrate outside hospitals across the country.