As Philip Hammond puts tax cuts before the NHS in his budget, we print this speech from Saturday's brilliant ourNHS demo by nurse militant Danielle Tiplady
Four words describe the nursing workforce. Undervalued, underfunded, underpaid, and underestimated.
Since 2010 we have had a savage pay restraint inflicted on us at the hands of this government; our nurses and NHS staff have lost 14% in real terms pay.
Since 2010 chronic underfunding with cuts that rip deep into our NHS, a loss of beds and services have left our patients sadly dying on trolleys, care being rationed, and our patients living in pain as there are no beds for them to have surgery.
Jeremy Hunt, you make these cuts: you hurt our patients, and we nurses bleed.
Since 2015 the government cut NHS bursaries for nursing, midwifery and associated healthcare professional students. Despite clear warnings from trade unions, frontline staff and students on the detriment this would have on the future workforce of the NHS, the government simply did not listen.
And guess what applications are down 23% this year alone. In a nursing workforce short of 24,000, a nursing workforce with 40% heading into retirement, a nursing workforce which has seen applications from the EU down 90%. Jeremy Hunt, this is a very dangerous risk.
Our student nurses should be nurtured and they are worth every last penny.
On Wednesday the government make their pay offer to us, and on Wednesday I say the government must value its NHS staff by lifting the 1% cap.
We give 100% but get 1%.
Our nurses are finding it a struggle to put food on the table, some resorting to food banks just to get by and feed their children.
One nurse says: "I apply for food parcels for my patients whilst at the same time wishing I could have one for my own family”.
Our nurses have been pushed to breaking point both mentally and physically working extreme hours just to pay the rent.
One nurse says: "If i sound irritable it is because I am on my 9th shift in a row”.
Our nurses have been pushed into a financial black hole.
CashFloat Payday Loans state that last year 11% of their applicants were nurses.
We maybe underpaid, undervalued, underfunded but, Jeremy Hunt, I say to you, we are not to be underestimated because we count.
Last year I made a petition to end the pay restraint. Over 105,000 of you wonderful people signed it, forcing a debate in parliament. The Tory Health Minister Philip Dunne expressed that, yes, we do deserve a pay rise but 'these are not normal times’.
If we as a profession are not valued by the government this week then this will be a step too far. Because we know we count.
We were right about bursaries, we were right about funding, and we are right about pay.
Nurses, you do not have to feel downtrodden anymore. Because nurses every single one of you count.
Together we are stronger, together we can campaign for fair pay, and together we can win because we count.