London, Jan 18 (EFE).- Hundreds of nurses marched here Wednesday on the first day of a two-day strike for higher pay and greater support to the overburdened National Health Service (NHS) as the United Kingdom continues to experience double-digit inflation.
Striking nurses, joined by physicians and other health professionals, set off at 3:00 pm from University College Hospital in north London for the walk to 10 Downing Street, official residence of Conservative Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
They made their way through the streets of the capital to the sound of drums, carrying placards with the slogan “Strike to Save the NHS.”
“We will remain on strike because we’re already seeing the damage that is being done to the Service and to the patients,” nurse Charlotte Gwen told EFE outside 10 Downing Street.
She said that the incidence of exhaustion, depression and anxiety among her colleagues is rising.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) union, whose membership is nearly 90 percent female, has rejected the government’s offer of a pay hike in the range of 4-5 percent.
Nurses say they want an increase equal to the inflation rate – 10.5 percent in December – plus 5 percent, but are willing to consider less than that.
Two years ago, the Conservative government, then led by Boris Johnson, gave most NHS employees a raise of 3 percent.
That amount, according to Gwen, fell far short of making up for nurses’ loss of purchasing power due to inflation and more than a decade of austerity policies. EFE csm-er/dr