The constant attack on NHS workers by this government means that I might have to leave the job that I love

I’m struggling to make ends meet as it is, I dread to think how I will cope over the next four years

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The Independent Online

For many of us working in the NHS, the pay we get is simply not enough to live on. And yesterday George Osborne announced that my colleagues and I will face another four years of restricted pay. It is an insult to the passionate healthcare staff who work so hard for so little. 

Last year I took strike action for the first time in my life. It’s shocking that our Pay Review Body rewarded us a one per cent rise, and even that wasn’t honoured. The small rise we took to the picket lines for wasn’t even adequate anyway, after having a pay freeze for the past three years.

Year on year our pay has been on a one per cent increase, but the price of everything else, from gas to petrol, has gone up much more quickly. I’m struggling to make ends meet as it is, I dread to think how I will cope over the next four years.

In a recent Unite survey 96 per cent of respondents said that the government’s NHS pay policy was unfair with 79 per cent saying that they are worse off compared to a year ago.

I feel worthless and undervalued. I try to maintain my professional skills, but I fear that the constant attack on NHS workers will mean that I will have to leave the job that I love. Like many of my colleagues, I have seriously considered leaving the NHS as we struggle to make ends meet. This issue of pay restraint, among others is what has led to a national shortage of paramedics and a mad scramble to recruit from abroad.

I am concerned that down-banding, reduced pay compared to inflation  andreduced pension entitlements, coupled with increased overtime and stress, will mean that senior healthcare professionals will increasingly work privately.

My colleagues and I are working harder than ever. Workloads have doubled in the past 12 months with no extra help. Staff morale is at an all-time low. I don’t think people realise how hard people work in the NHS and how poorly paid they actually are. Front line services are already being severely affected, patients are waiting longer to be seen. Piling more pressure on NHS staff will only make the situation worse.

But the public do realise that we’re not greedy. We’re not asking for the earth; we just want to be able to live, and now the chancellor has gone and made it so much harder to do that.

Today George Osborne has shown how little he values the hard work and dedication of the millions of public sector workers who keep this country running.

Debbie Wilkinson is an NHS paramedic

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