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A terminal cancer patient has joined the picket line to support striking nurses who “kept her alive”.
Wrapped up in a hat, scarf, gloves, and coat, Claire Mooney stood holding a sign that read, “This cancer patient supports the nurses”.
Despite her condition being terminal, she was determined to show her support for the thousands of nurses taking industrial action across the country today.
The Royal College of Nursing had its first wave of strikes in December – the NHS trusts that met the voting threshold for strikes were split into groups.
The Christie Hospital, where Claire is being treated, is one of the Greater Manchester hospitals taking part in January’s round of action, reports Manchester Evening News.
Pickets across Wigan and Tameside have drawn lots of support from the passing public, honking their horns and showing solidarity.
Claire said: “[Nurses] are run ragged, staying past their shifts, they’ve kept me alive.”
She added that she is “sure there is money out there, but [the government] is just not giving it to the right people”, saying she “wouldn’t be here” without Greater Manchester nurses.
“These hard-working nurses kept me alive and if a pay rise helps them, then they should get it,” continued Claire.
Charlotte Barker, a diagnostics nurse in Wigan said this morning that NHS staff like her can no longer provide safe care as underfunding and understaffing has been chronic for years.
She said: “We cannot undertake the care patients want us to and the care at the standards that we want to deliver to our patients anymore.
“We’re acting on behalf of the patients and nurses of today and tomorrow.
“We deserve more, as do our patients. We have had to deal with substandard pay awards for far too long – we have had to go to extremes, working extra shifts, going without food.
“I’m sure that’s not the image patients want to see when they’re coming into hospital.
“If we can’t live properly, how can we go to patients and give them the care standards they require?”
She added: “If our pay had gone up with inflation over the last 10 years, we wouldn’t have to ask for this large lump of what we’re entitled to.
“Nothing has changed in the last 10 years and now we’re losing so many staff members.
“25,000 nurses left the register last year.
“I’ve worked for the NHS for over 10 years, most nurses – most nurses then would want to come back and give a bit more.
“That’s not the case now, they are just demoralised and want to leave.”
Downing Street called the announcement of further strike dates by nurses “deeply regrettable”.
The union had initially demanded a pay increase of up to 19 per cent to cover soaring inflation and falls in real-term wages over the past decade.
But earlier this month, RCN boss Pat Cullen said she would be willing to “meet the government halfway” and could accept a pay rise of around 10 per cent to end its ongoing dispute with the government.
The government has continually declined to re-open pay negotiations when it comes to pay, saying it will stick to the recommendation of the independent pay review body of around 4 per cent while public finances are short.
The union has also cried out over understaffing, with low pay believed to be fuelling a recruitment and retention crisis within the NHS.
The understaffing leads to unsafe care, says the RCN. Across the NHS, there are more than 130,000 staff vacancies.
What the government has to say
Today, Downing Street urged nurses’ leaders to return to the negotiating table following the latest round of strikes announced by the health service unions.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We continue to be concerned with the level of disruption strikes bring to patient care.
“We know that trusts are working hard to minimise that.
“As the Health and Social Care Secretary (Steve Barclay) said, we want to continue discussions.
“We think that is the right way forward rather than picket lines.”
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