A PROTEST is set to take place in Carlisle today calling for better pay and conditions for NHS workers.

Cumbria Socialist Party is calling for a 15 per cent pay rise for health and care workers as party of its Rebuild Our NHS campaign.

The party is supporting the 14 unions representing more than 1.3 million NHS employees on the Agenda for Change pay system, who urged the Government to show its appreciation of their efforts during the pandemic and bring forward a pay rise due to be received next April.

The Government failed to commit, though it announced above inflation pay rises for 900,000 other public sector workers including teachers, police and the Armed Forces.

Cumbria Socialist Party will be outside HSBC from 11am, urging people to sign a petition calling for an expansion of medical and nursing student places, alongside an end to student fees, in order to tackle the staffing shortfall seen across the NHS nationally.

"The government says the NHS has "coped" with the Covid crisis - but only by putting off almost all other work," said a party spokesman.

"If it hadn't been for the cuts and privatisation of the last 10 years, the NHS would have been able to cope with the virus and carry out normal operations. The 18-week target has been missed for the last four years, and is now the worst since records began.

"The government should immediately raise NHS spending to 11 per cent of national income - the European

average -, tear up expensive PFI contracts, end outsourcing and restore nursing bursaries."

Minister for Care Helen Whately said in a statement in July that as it was the third and final year of the three-year Agenda for Change pay and contract reform deal, the NHS Pay Review Body did not make any pay recommendations for 2020/2021.

Mrs Whately said however, the "hard work and dedication of our NHS staff in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic" had been recognised.

"This multi-year deal has delivered year on year pay increases for our much-valued NHS staff and as part of this we have increased the starting salary for a newly qualified nurse by over 12 per cent and increased the lowest starting salary within the NHS by over 16 per cent," she said.