Karen joins SoR members on the picket line at Guys Hospital in London.
#NoRaiseNoRays: Why radiographers and NHS colleagues are striking today
Today, radiographers are taking strike action alongside many of their colleagues across the NHS.
It is rare for our members to go on strike. But, in common with many other healthcare professionals, we have simply had enough of our goodwill and loyalty being taken advantage of. And that is why you will see radiographers on picket lines up and down the country in support of our pay dispute.
As a result of a prolonged funding squeeze by this government, with flat-lining budgets failing to keep anywhere near the real rising cost of delivering quality healthcare, the NHS is facing a growing funding crisis.
This is already a service reliant on the professionalism and goodwill of thousands of NHS workers giving unpaid overtime and going that extra mile to care for their patients.
Now the government expects hardworking NHS staff, already stretched to the limit by massive restructuring, ruthless productivity targets and rising demand, to continue to sacrifice pay in order to meet the growing funding gap within our health service.
The staff delivering NHS services understand, more than anyone, the need to boost efficiency, to improve services and achieve more joined up and integrated services based on innovation from the frontline.
But this can only be delivered by a valued and engaged workforce. You cannot cut your way to efficiency. In the long run, that is self-defeating as morale plummets and recruitment and retention issues kick in. You don’t motivate and engage radiography staff by subjecting them to five years of real terms pay cuts.
The government’s refusal to implement the recommendation of the independent NHS Pay Review Body, denying a meagre 1% pay rise to over half of our members, is frankly an insult. And it represents a further weakening of the national bargaining arrangements that have been a strength of the NHS, as we see harmful divisions open up between workers in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The Society of Radiographers fought hard to stop NHS employers in the South West breaking away and imposing local pay deals last year. With the direction of travel under this government, it is only a matter of time before that raises its head again.
As such, our fight is not only for a fair pay deal this year but for a sustainable funding settlement in future years. A settlement that achieves unity between health workers across the UK, that recognises the autonomy of the Pay Review Body, protects the national agreements under Agenda for Change and ensures that NHS workers’ pay begins to catch up as the economy recovers.
Polling by our colleagues at the Royal College of Midwives suggests that 80% of the public support our fight for fair pay. And we’ve warmly welcomed the support we’ve received from the public on picket lines and demonstrations.
This will be a hard battle but, based on the unity of health service unions seen so far and the public support we’ve been getting, we’re confident we can win on behalf of all NHS workers and our patients.