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There Is No Plan B: We Need To Talk About Health Care Professionals

The government should accept negotiations with the NHS because Health Care Professionals need the necessary funds to live comfortably in neighborhoods. They have an important vital role in society since they care for the most vulnerable people, therefore they should be appropriately compensated.


Thousands of Royal College of Nursing (RCN) professionals are leading strikes in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The situation of the British National Health Service is uncertain and the strikes are likely to continue throughout 2023.


Within the 106-year history of the largest nursing union, which represents the national health service (NHS), this is the first time that a strike has taken place. The stoppages began in December 2022 and the health workers claim that they will continue to put pressure on the government.


The union is asking for a 19% salary increase, although it has indicated that it may accept negotiations. According to BBC News, NHS workers including Nurses have already received a 4.75% increase in England and Wales. However, this increase is less than half the rate of inflation. Data from the Office for National Statistics claims that UK inflation has reached 11.1%, the highest in 41 years. Food prices and energy hikes are some of the roots of the problems, leaving families with less purchasing power.


The British government seems unwilling to budge in giving British health care workers what they ask for. Instead, the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told reporters that he was disappointed with the problems caused by the strikes. UK’s health care workers need a raise that is above the rate of inflation to be able to live reasonably. They are responsible for caring for British citizens' health so the government must be prepared to take care of them.


Steve Barclay, the Health Secretary wrote that these demands could make workers poorer and reduce patient care in the Independent Newspaper. While the government claimed that a double-digit increase in the public sector will make the country's inflation worse, government funds need to be prioritized on paying their workforce properly.


Strikes have already been announced by the GMB union on February 6 and 20 and March. Their message is clear and convincing, exclaiming, “make changes now!” The government has made no effective decisions concerning negotiations, putting health care at risk. Particularly routine treatment, such as non-urgent scheduled procedures on the strike days.

NHS England’s official website continues to provide information for patients despite the announced strikes. An announcement stated on their website says, “When someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk, you should seek emergency care in the normal way, by calling 999 or attending A&E.”


They assure that emergency services in any and all life-threatening cases the patient should report to the hospital as normal. Furthermore, not all hospitals will be affected by the shutdowns. One of the recommendations is that patients use the health services wisely so that more serious cases can be attended to, since there will be fewer ambulances. They suggest that patients without a life-threatening or serious health condition should take other, simpler care.


Labor Force sold, but not paid?


Strikes have always happened, it is not new that unions promote strikes in order to face government impositions or to ask for better working conditions. However, when such attitudes come from health professionals, there is always a kind of social astonishment.


After all, how can we live without basic health care? What if we have an emergency, a heart attack or an accident? If health professionals are paralyzed, who should we turn to? The question is, who values these professionals until they decide to take more drastic action?


Hard work is done by these professionals. We cannot forget that the patient's follow-up, throughout the cure, is accompanied by the nurses. Anyone who has ever been in a vulnerable situation in a hospital knows this very well: the nurse is the one who is there at all times. All health professionals play a fundamental complementary role.


Even so, it seems that the government forgets that we are not talking about voluntary work. No health professional should leave aside his or her need to pay bills. Although it is a job that deals with people's lives, this does not mean that they should work exhausting hours without the necessary financial conditions. Who will pay that bill at the end of it all?


Picture: Sky News 

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