LiverpoolWorld joined the picket line as nurses and ambulance staff across Merseyside took part in the biggest ever day of strike action in the NHS.
Union members are staging a walkout over pay and conditions and NHS workers told us that newly qualified nurses are quitting over poor pay, older nurses are tkaing early retirement and there’s already not enough staff on hospital wards to cope.
The strikes by members of the Royal College of Nursing over Monday and Tuesday this week are taking place at 73 NHS trusts in England.
‘Shameful’ lack of government response
We spoke to Janet Buoey, who is a paramedic and lead rep for Cheshire and Merseyside at GMB, about the government response, she said: "They should be ashamed of themselves. They said that the door is always open, but they're making no attempt to get round the table. I think there's been one meeting. It's just not good enough. The lack of response is shameful.
“The people here today don't want to be on strike, losing money, and putting people at risk. We're providing life and limb cover, but the ambulance service should be working normally, it's down to the government to get round the table."
‘Not enough nurses’
Michael is a nurse at the A&E department at Aintree Hospital, he said: "You have nurses who are approaching retirement age who are retiring, leaving, or taking early retirement. You’ve got nurses who are newly qualified who are quitting the profession because the pay is awful.
“There’s not enough support on the wards. There’s not enough staff on the wards. There’s not enough healthcare assitants. There’s not enough nurses. The doctors are leaving for the likes of Australia, Canada and New Zealand and I can’t blame them."
Government accused of ‘being on strike’
RCN bosses say that whilst they've had discussions with the UK government, the Prime Minister is still refusing to open formal pay negotiations, which would stop nursing strikes. Over the weekend, General Secretary & Chief Executive Pat Cullen appealed to him directly.
Mr Cullen said: “No Health Secretary and no Business Secretary were there to answer urgent questions in Parliament today – and no response from the Prime Minister after I wrote to him this weekend. People may wonder if the Government is also on strike.
“In Parliament today, we heard more of the same from a Government whose most senior figures seem to be missing in action. The Westminster Government is punishing England’s nurses and looking increasingly isolated as the Welsh and Scottish governments come to the table.”
Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said: "The Governor of the Bank of England warned if we try to beat inflation with high pay rises, it will only get worse and people would not be better off."