Unite members and staff joined demonstrations outside St Thomas' hospital because they want to ensure high quality and safe services for patients and appropriate reward for an well-being of NHS staff.
This related to a number of NHS staff working at the trust wanting to demonstrate to raise serious concerns about potential threats to their pay and to show that the Government was once again trying to get more for less.
The unions, health employers and the Department of Health (DoH) have all submitted evidence to the NHS Pay Review Body (PRB) which will be announcing its proposals on pay in July. A great deal of this evidence was around the issue of 7 day services.
Unite London and Eastern's Lead Health Officer, Sarah Cook, explained, "The demonstration was about the concerns of staff that the national employer and DoH proposals to achieve 7 day services will not work and will be damaging for patients and staff. They propose to remove or reduce Unsocial Hours Pay - this is extra pay for working nights, weekends and public holiday - to fund 7 day services. If they were to be implemented they could cut NHS pay by up to 30%.
The demonstrators wanted to make it clear that they did not oppose 7 day services but wanted to state publically that they should be properly funded and properly staffed to ensure patient safety and quality services. To provide 7 day services there is a need for more staff and more funding.
The PRB has been tasked to develop a system with no increases in funding available; whatever it proposes it is inevitable that services will get worse. If pay is cut more staff will leave the NHS: understaffing endangers patients, increases stress and will further lower NHS staff morale - already at rock bottom after years' of restructures and reorganisations, down banding, increased privatisation and fragmentation of the health service under the Health and Social Care Act and on top of this years of real terms pay cuts and pay freezes.
Staff already work extremely long hours and often question the safety of working patterns because of their concerns for patients and staff. It is unsustainable and dangerous to simply ask NHS staff to work more and more hours for less and less money."
The campaign has grown organically with staff from different unions getting involved. Unite London and Eastern Region and the Unite GSTT branch supported the demonstration and are working with staff to take the campaign forward. Regional Secretary, Peter Kavanagh, spoke to the rally and the Unite national officers were in attendance.