A petition calling for increased pay for nurses has been signed by 1,000 people.

The Carlisle Socialist Party was to hold protests but, because of regulations surrounding coronavirus, it decided to have stalls in Carlisle, Workington and Whitehaven to collect signatures for its petition instead.

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.

Socialist Party member Robert Charlesworth said the campaign was part of a national protest by grassroots organisations including Nurses United.

He said the petition was calling on the Government to fill the 100,000 nursing and 122,000 social care vacancies.

The group also wants a 15 per cent wage rise for nurses across the board and the petition also calls for the guaranteed safety of health workers and schools through expanded tracing and testing.

Although not on this petition, Mr Charlesworth said the Carlisle Socialist Party was also urging the Government to return the bursary system for trainee nurses.

“A survey has showed that nurses are leaving the profession over a lack of a decent pay and we need to encourage more people into the profession," said Mr Charlesworth.

“If we want to train and retain nurses, the Government should look at bursaries as a way to encourage people into the profession.”

He said even with a 15 per cent wage increase, nurses would still be earning less. He said their wages had dropped by 20 per cent as a result of cost of living rises and a lack of pay increases. "Another cause for which the group is fighting is an acknowledgement of what NHS and care workers have been going through. They are absolutely exhausted and should be given time off," he said.

Mr Charlesworth said he was not surprised by the number of signatures collected, because of the goodwill towards NHS workers at the moment.

He said: “We had many people coming up not just to sign but to tell us why they were supporting our petition.”

Some of those were health workers and some the families and friends of NHS and social care workers. He said there was a desperate shortage of nurses and an even greater of care workers.

“During the height of the pandemic Prime Minister Boris Johnson talked about rewards for the NHS. Now it is time to act.”