The Reality of Working in the Collapsing NHS


When a Socialist Labour Party established the British National Health Service (NHS) – premised upon the Soviet medical system paid for through taxation, but delivered ‘free at the point of use’, the staff were asked to work 12-hour night and day shifts (to ensure medical continuation standards on the wards), and to accept a wage that was modest to say the least. However, at the time, nurses and midwives were given flats or houses (depending upon their circumstances), usually located near to, or within hospital grounds. These were paid for out of wages, but at vastly reduced rates. There were also 24-hour creche facilities were trained NHS professionals provided on-site child-care for the children of NHS staff. There were also extensive credits unions and loan facilities only available to NHS staff – all provided by a grateful nation. Since the rise of Thatcher in 1979, all this support has been taken away by successive New Labour, Tory and LibDems Governments. In 1988, free university education was taken away by Thatcher, but nurses and midwives (whilst having to take out tens of thousands of pounds in student loans), received very small training bursaries which did not cover much, but certainly helped with everyday bills and travel, etc. Today, a band 6 or 7 nurse or midwife receives a wage around £21,000 – which is around what an 18 year old clerk would earn in his or her first job in a prosperous office! The differences are stark. Whereas the clerk works a guaranteed 9 – 5 job and has weekends off, nurses and midwives can work day and night and during every day. Whereas a clerk receives an annual pay rise and incentives for good work, nurses and midwives receive no pay rises and no incentives. Whereas a clerk can make an error which the firm absorbs, a nurse or midwife can be charged for criminal neglect and imprisoned. The Tories and LibDems are deliberately destroying the NHS because they want US-style private medicine operating in the UK. My partner Gee (an NHS Midwife), leaves home at 6am and works a 12-hour shift – she returns home at 8:45pm at night, has a short time to eat, wash, and say ‘hi’ to her children before going to bed. When on nightshifts she leaves at 6pm and returns home at about 8:30am. This pattern of institutional abuse is happening all over the UK and at every level of the NHS. NHS staff are being abused by the people they are trying to help (who blame them for the Tory cuts), and many are psychologically and physically shattered by the experience. As the middle classes of the UK keep voting Tory or LibDems, the NHS has not got long to go now. You can research the horror stories related to private health online – it is not the answer to looking after our country’s health.

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