Thousands of NHS workers head out to protest over pay and conditions

The most experienced frontline nurses are £6144 per year worse off than ten years ago.

Matt Bodell
8 August 2020
Overworked underpaid

Demonstrations are set to take place outside hospitals and in town centres.

Thousands of nurses and allied healthcare workers will protest today calling for fair pay and conditions.


It comes after health and social care workers were missed out of a recent deal for public sector workers despite working on the frontline during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over the past decade, the average Band 5 NHS nurse is £6144 per year worse off due to wages failing to keep up with the rate of inflation (RPI) – a picture that is only made worse by pension and national insurance changes.

New research by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) suggests that over a third of the nursing workforce is considering leaving due to poor pay and working conditions and in July thirteen healthcare unions called for “immediate pay discussions” to begin suggesting that “applause and kind words” need to be turned into something more substantial.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic concerns over the adequacy of personal protective equipment (PPE) were also consistently raised.


Last month a parliamentary committee concluded that the Government failed to tackle the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline staff with “sufficient urgency”.

Demonstrations are set to take place outside hospitals and in town and city centres.

Events are planned in Brighton, Basildon, Bournemouth, Bridgend, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Coventry, Doncaster, Eastbourne, Glasgow, Hull, Ipswich, Inverness, Leeds, Medway, Newcastle, Norwich, Nottingham, Oxford, Plymouth, Sheffield, Swansea, and Central London.


Protesters have been told to ensure face coverings, social distancing, and regular hand hygiene are in place in order to maintain safety and comply with government guidance.

Anthony Johnson, Registered Nurse and Lead Organiser for Nurses United said: “This is a pivotal moment in Nursing. We have 74,000 NHS workers self organising to take on this Government after decades of real-terms pay cuts.

“I have been really proud to be able to support so many new people to become active and take action. This is what Nurses United was made for and if you’re not involved yet, get involved because we’re going to win this with you.”

A recent survey by UNISON found that the majority of the public (69%) believe all NHS staff should get an early pay rise before the end of this year.

Donna Kinnair, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said:  “The Government must listen to the strength of feeling in the nursing workforce, and among the wider public, and bring forward these pay discussions. Telling nursing staff to wait until next year is completely unacceptable.


“While these are not our events, I will always support members playing an active role in fighting for fair pay and conditions for nursing staff. As health professionals, I am confident nursing staff taking part in the demonstrations will follow Covid-19 guidelines.

“Our recent survey of 42,000 nursing staff showed that 36 per cent were considering leaving the profession, with most saying pay was a factor in their decision.

“For the country to be able to recruit and retain nursing staff, they must receive fair pay for the professional work they do, which is increasingly complex.”

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