Employees and patients at the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro spoke to the Southwest NHS Fightback campaigners about the attack on health workers’ pay and conditions.

A worker in the coronary care unit attacked the formation of a pay cartel by 19 NHS trusts in the south west region.

“It’s wrong! People that want to work can’t work because they’ve got to do it with another company in the hospital. Then we’re being packed to the rafters [with patients]. It’s giving nobody incentive to work. The spirit’s down here.  Everybody’s fed up.  People work hard to save people’s lives and get treated like this.

“Why do we have to work for another company in this hospital, and this be classed as a second job?  We used to work those hours as overtime and it’s all been taken away from us. I don’t want to work for another company and pay more tax, more insurance.”

Referring to the planned 15 percent pay cut, she explained its affects would be crippling.

“I’ve got the bills to pay at home, and I’m not working 12 hour shifts and not getting anything for it. I haven’t had a pay rise in two years.

“I’m not with a union. I’ve got no faith in them. Some help you, some don’t.  That’s what I’ve seen in this hospital–a lot of people haven’t had any help, have they?”

A construction worker contracted to the NHS by a labour agency reacted angrily to the ongoing privatisation of the health service.

Its “a disgrace” he said. “The idea of selling off the NHS! If you look at all these privatisations since the 1980s–British Steel, British Rail, British Gas—there were loads of them. They were all just sold off for a quick buck.  They didn’t actually care about the product that was being provided.

“With the NHS, it’s the worst thing you could possibly imagine. It’s like selling off the schools, which they probably will be doing next.”

A patient explained that nursing staff at the hospital were already under-staffed but were trying to keep up the standards of care.  The cuts implemented by the government meant that patients are suffering too.  Many when they come to the hospital have already to deal with the problems that arise from these cutbacks. The situation would only worsen. It was essential that health workers informed people about what was taking place, so they were alerted to it.