NHS and health

Protest for the NHS, 3 July

We’re so used to having the NHS it’s easy to forget it’s not a given. The average family in the US pays about $10,000 a year for health insurance — i.e. just to get coverage. Even for those who have insurance, services and costs not covered in one way or another typically come to thousands more, and have consistently expanded. Tens of millions don’t have insurance or qualify for the limited government support that exists. Even for relatively well-off workers, there is enormous insecurity built into the system: Will you be able to continue to make your insurance payments? What if you lose a job...

Support a 15% rise for NHS workers!

The major front in the war for the NHS over the coming months may be health workers’ fight for a decent pay rise (more accurately, a significant restoration of losses from real-terms pay cuts). Some time in the second half of June the government’s stitched-up NHS Pay Review Body (PRB) will respond to the Tories’ proposal of a 1% increase, i.e. another pay cut. Then, in turn, the government will say whether it will pay the PRB recommendation or not. The Labour Party’s failure to commit to rank-and-file NHS workers’ demand of 15% or £3,000, whichever is higher — or to anything like it: the...

Surveying our workplaces

Our union reps are going to all five big sites in my NHS Trust conducting a health and safety survey of workers in as many teams as possible and looking at ventilation arrangements. Yesterday I got about 60 surveys from around 15 different teams, recruited several new members, a few members who are going to step up to be part of a network of workplace contacts, and possibly one new rep. I found out about really risky work practices in poorly ventilated areas of the hospital that have been developed largely on the hoof by frontline staff. Much of the infection risk could be avoided with...

NHS pay: on the streets, 3 July

Within the next few weeks, the issue of NHS pay will be sharply back on the agenda. The NHS Pay Review Body (PRB) is due to make their recommendation on pay for England and Wales in “mid-June”. That will be followed by an offer from the government. After 18 months of the Covid response which has stretched NHS workers to their limits, proved fatal for over 800, and left many more physically and mentally scarred, the offer will certainly bring disappointment and anger. The immediate focus of campaigning is the well-timed day of action called by Keep Our NHS Public, Health Campaigns Together, NHS...

"This is about the kind of world we want to live in"

Ali Treacher is a care worker, Unite the Union activist and workplace rep, and Secretary of the Care and Support Workers Organise! network (CaSWO!) She is also a supporter of Anti-Capitalist Resistance. She spoke to us about care workers' fight. CaSWO! has been meeting throughout the last year, since the start of the pandemic, after a Unison-organised call which brought together care workers around issues like workplace health and safety and PPE. The initial focus was basically offering each other solidarity and advice and sharing information. Government guidelines were so vague that we had to...

Vaccines and blood clots

Does the AstraZeneca vaccine (AZV) cause rare and dangerous types of blood clot? Probably yes, and AZV is now not recommended for people under 30. Let’s look at the overall picture. Out of 4.4 million people confirmed to have Covid-19, over 150,000 have died. That’s about 34,000 per million confirmed cases. Confirmed cases are likely to be an underestimate of actual cases but, taking the highest estimate, the fatality rate is still at least 10,000 per million cases or about 1%. In principle, mass vaccination should eventually be able to reduce Covid infection rates, and therefore deaths, to...

NHS pay after Scotland

As expected, the majority of NHS union members and trade unions in Scotland have voted in consultative ballots to accept the 4% pay offer. Members of Unison, Unite, and the smaller profession-based unions such as the RCM and CSP voted to accept. 85% of those voting in Unison, the biggest union, accepted. GMB and RCN members rejected in line with their leaderships’ recommendations. The Scottish government quickly announced it would be implementing the deal with no further negotiation, and it looks unlikely that the rejecting unions will seriously oppose this. Although not quite meeting the...

GMB votes to reject 4% in NHS

Scottish NHS workers in the GMB union have rejected the 4% Scottish government pay offer. The RCN, who also recommended rejection, are expected to announce their result as Solidarity goes to press on 11 May. Unison recommended acceptance of the offer, and Unite did not make a recommendation, so it seems likely their members will vote to accept. The issue in Scotland will now be whether GMB and possibly the RCN will ballot for action, or simply use the recommendation to reject as a crude recruitment ploy, as happened in the last pay round. Members should push for a ballot for strike action...

NHS protests set for 3 July

Ballot results on NHS pay in Scotland are due in the next few days as we go press. Unison has recommended the 4% offer to its members; RCN and GMB are advising rejection. There has been minimal campaigning during the ballot and so the turnout is likely to be low. Whichever way the vote goes, work will be needed to involve members and raise the activity levels in workplaces. In England and Wales activity on pay in health has gone into a lull as the drawn out Pay Review Board process continues. The Pay Review Board is now expected to report in mid to late June, rather than May as previously...

Break the world vaccine logjam!

Just over 13 Covid jabs have been given per 100 people, world-wide, as of 25 April. That’s about five more vaccinations per 100 people since 1 April. Over April, vaccination levels have increased, but only in a straight line, about 0.2 more jabs per 100 each day, not exponentially, as they need to. At current rates it will take more than a year to give everyone in the world one dose, and two years to give everyone full vaccination, even taking into account the contribution of the Janssen single-dose vaccine. Probably long before then, the vaccine protection for those who have already had jabs...

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