Fewer than one in 20 NHS workers believe Government handled Covid crisis well

14 February 2021, 21:10

Medics wearing PPE exit an ambulance outside the emergency department of the Royal London Hospital
Medics wearing PPE exit an ambulance outside the emergency department of the Royal London Hospital. Picture: PA

By Megan White

Fewer than one in 20 NHS workers believe the Government has handled the coronavirus crisis well, according to a new survey.

Almost half of 3,500 health workers polled by the GMB said ministers have handled the pandemic badly and have made the situation worse, said the union.

The GMB said it has campaigned throughout the pandemic for NHS workers to have proper personal protective equipment (PPE), Covid testing and decent pay rises after a decade of austerity.

Read more: UK hits target of giving 15 million people their first dose of Covid vaccine

Rachel Harrison, GMB national officer, said: "NHS staff have been badly let down by ministers throughout this pandemic - it's no wonder they don't think the Government is doing a good job.

"It's a year into the crisis and we've still got ambulance workers attending patients with flimsy gowns and paper masks instead of proper PPE and nurses in hospitals working amongst Covid patients given only the most basic of surgical masks.

"While other key workers have been given recognition for their efforts, NHS staff are still waiting. They are still suffering negative consequences from the last pay settlement, which GMB members rejected.

"Ministers admitted this week the NHS needs radical reform to repair 10 years of Tory privatisation - the first change they must make is to give staff the pay and protection they need to carry on saving lives."

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: "Covid-19 is a new virus - we have followed the science at all times and have taken decisive action in response to the latest available evidence to protect the NHS and save lives.

"Hundreds of thousands of tests are being processed every day, and more than 8.6 million people have been asked to self-isolate thanks to the work of NHS Test and Trace. Over 8.1 billion items of PPE have been distributed to protect our health and social care staff.

"This Government has committed to continue to provide pay rises for NHS workers, including a pay increase of at least £250 for staff earning less than £24,000. Over one million NHS staff are also benefiting from the multi-year pay and contract deal agreed with trade unions in 2018.

"We are now undertaking the biggest vaccination rollout in UK history, with over 15 million people already receiving their first dose, and continue to put in place measures to ensure NHS and social care services are available to anyone who needs them."