Published: 06:00, 08 August 2020
Health professionals and patients are expected to join in a mass protest in Medway this weekend, as pressure mounts against the government after its decision not to give nurses a pay rise.
The GMB Union, which has organised the protests taking place up and down the country, described the move as a "kick in the teeth" to nurses who have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic.
It comes after NHS staff made their way to Whitehall on Wednesday evening last week, carrying banners that read "Clapping won’t pay my bills" and "We helped you survive, now help us survive".
Health workers are in the final year of a three-year deal and are due a pay rise next April, but unions want the government to show its appreciation for NHS staff by bringing it forward to this year.
The government did not commit to an early pay rise for all NHS staff when wage increases for 900,000 public sector workers were announced.
Doctors, teachers and police officers were among those who will benefit, but nurses were left out.
Rachel Harrison, GMB National Officer, said: "Nurses have long endured their pay, terms and conditions being driven down for years.
"Many dedicated staff have left the NHS because they can no longer cope with the low pay combined with crippling workloads - this has plunged our health service into a recruitment crisis.
"Nurses are highly trained professionals and increasingly their pay fails to reflect this. Many thought this Government would play fair and compensate them for the risks and hard work they endured during the height of the pandemic.
"Instead they feel that they have been kicked in the teeth.
"If billionaires like Richard Branson can be bailed out by the government, why can’t money be spent on giving NHS workers a proper pay rise?
"GMB Union is calling on Ministers to do the right thing. We won’t stop organising and campaigning until they do.”
Alongside Medway, demonstrations are set to take place outside hospitals and in town and city centres in Brighton, Basildon, Bournemouth, Bridgend, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Coventry, Doncaster, Eastbourne, Glasgow, Hull, Ipswich, Inverness, Leeds, Newcastle, Norwich, Nottingham, Oxford, Plymouth, Sheffield, Swansea and Central London.
It is not clear where in the Towns staff will demonstrate.