Why Harrogate campaigners want to change Clap for Carers on Thursdays

Members of the Harrogate branch of the Women’s Equality Party have been adding a chant to the weekly clap for key workers in the NHS - and they are encouraging the public to join in next Thursday as part of a national campaign.

Saturday, 25th April 2020, 3:01 pm
The Nightingale Hospital Yorkshire and the Humber in Harrogate is lit blue for the clap for the NHS earlier in the month.

In the run-up to next Thursday’s Clap For Carers at 8pm, Harrogate Women’s Equality Party branch members is encouraging their neighbours to join them in, chanting “protect them, pay them” to call for NHS staff and care workers to be given the PPE they so urgently need and to be paid a living wage.

Co-Harrogate branch leader, Helen Shay, said: “Boris Johnson said he owes the NHS his life – but doesn’t he also owe them and other key workers proper PPE, better working conditions and a living wage?

"Currently, half of care workers don't receive a real living wage, while student nurses are having to pay tuition fees to work on the frontline of this crisis."

“The Government is applauding them as heroes but without taking such steps, this seems an empty gesture.

"Sadly the last time the Government was clapping the NHS, it was after they’d blocked a pay rise for nurses. To clap them now, when they are still not willing to provide that pay rise, could arguably be seen as hypocrisy.

“That’s why the Harrogate branch has started joining other Women’s Equality Party members up and down the country in this chant, and I would encourage every single person in Harrogate to join in next week.

"NHS staff and carers in our District hospital and care homes across the Harrogate area are risking their lives for us in this crisis, as are key workers throughout the UK. We need to make sure the government gives them the recognition and the wages they deserve.

"My own mother, who lives in Leeds, was a NHS auxiliary nurse for years and, now at 86 years old, she still does all she can for NHS by clapping and chanting every Thursday.”

Hannah Barham Brown, a GP Registrar and the leader of the WE Leeds branch, said: “17% of residential care workers live in poverty, half of care workers do not receive a real living wage and student nurses are being charged tuition fees to work on the front line.

"Is it any wonder that we went into this crisis with extraordinary vacancy rates in nursing and care, hugely impacting our ability to cope with the pandemic?

“If this crisis has demonstrated anything, it is what we already knew: care matters. Our economy, our whole society, would not function without it. We must protect, and value those who deliver it.

"Our NHS and care workers need more than our applause, they need proper protection and pay.”

Harrogate WEP said that last year saw 44,000 NHS nursing vacancies and a shortage of more than 200,000 staff across NHS trusts and adult social care, with 30% of adult social care workers leaving annually.

Meanwhile the lowest NHS pay band for a nurse is under £20,000 and many carers earn little more than minimum wage.

The Women’s Equality Party is calling on the Government to guarantee a real living wage and proper training for all care workers, guarantee a real terms increase in pay for all nurses, stop charging migrant nurses and carers to use the NHS, reinstate the pre-coalition bursaries and stop charging nurses to study.

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