Healthcare workers brave the cold to protest in King’s Lynn

Staff at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital on the picket line this morning. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Staff at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital on the picket line this morning. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

Around 40 healthcare workers braved the cold temperatures and staged a four hour protest this morning.

Along with trade union members, they stood along the entrance to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn where drivers regularly sounded their horns and waved in support.

And up to 150 hospital staff also took part in the four-hour strike that started at 7am as part of nationwide industrial action.

Trade unions want a 1% pay rise for all NHS staff, but the government has said the proposal would cost too much.

Darren Barber, secretary of the QEH branch for UNISON said he was pleased with the turnout.

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'The support from the public has been fantastic,' he said. 'The fact is that we are bringing in staff from abroad when we should be employing from our own communities.

'Who would want to go into the nursing sector - people are now choosing other occupations. This is going to affect the care and waiting times. The public are realising it will affect them in the end.'

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For the rest of the week, staff will be working to rule, meaning they will take their breaks and not work over their contracted hours unpaid.

Emergency care assistant Carole Taylor has worked for the ambulance service for 15 years and decided to join the picket line on her rest day.

She said: 'We are not taking striking lightly. But I would like a decent living wage and now I am going to be working until I'm 67 where I will be carrying 16 stone men down the stairs at that age.

'A BT engineer gets paid more than a paramedic, and paramedics are leaving in droves. I know of emergency care assistants that are leaving to drive lorries as they get paid more doing that.'

Prospective Labour Candidate Jo Rust joined the picket line and waved union flags at passers-by.

She said: 'I think it's vital we support our NHS staff as they deserve a decent wage. It's a misconception that they are well paid but they are not. This is the least I can do.'

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