Thursday saw more than 4,200 physiotherapists and support staff take 24-hour strike action across England. This is a first for members of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) who have not taken strike action since the organisation was founded in 1894.

On the picket lines many held hand-made placards—as have striking nurses—to emphasise the fight for a pay rise requires a broader struggle against crippling cuts to the National Health Service (NHS) budget, intolerable working conditions with patient care placed at risk.

Physiotherapists striking at Imperial hospital in London [Photo: @physiorow/Twitter]

These read: “Underpaid, Understaffed, Overstretched”, “Patient safety must come first”, “Broken and Broke”, “Striking because we care”, “While the Tories were drinking we were sinking”—a reference to the Whitehall parties held during lockdown by senior Conservatives including current Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

These sentiments found no expression in the CSP official placards which simply read “Value NHS Physio Staff#CSP4FairPay”.

During the industrial action physiotherapists continued to provide emergency cover including intensive care and respiratory on call services.

On the picket line outside Royal Derby Hospital, Roz, who works as a hand specialist and has been with the NHS six years told Derbyshire Live she was “scared that if one of my family members were to need the NHS, it would not give the care that I would like them to receive. That’s not because of a lack of will or a lack of skilled staff, there’s just not enough staff, time, beds or resources.”

“It’s now acceptable to discharge someone home while they’re doubly incontinent and need care four times a day. That’s a line I wouldn’t have crossed six years ago when I started working” she said.

Her colleague Emily added, “We’re asked to work overtime and not always paid for it, and we’re asked to do extra shifts which affect our well-being.”

Hayley Kidger, a senior oncology physio at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, highlighted the impact low pay was having on NHS staff. “NHS trusts should not have to have foodbanks, it’s ridiculous, they shouldn’t have to support their staff that way,” she told the Press Association. “Why would you come here, and put your heart and soul on the line to save someone’s life and hold their hand when they’re dying, when you can get paid more to run a Tesco?”

On the picket lines physiotherapists emphasised the issues of patient safety, stress and burnout, which have been highly exacerbated by staff shortages among physiotherapists. In one week, nine of her 18-strong team had cried at work due to stress, Hayley said.

Source link