Since the Clap for Carers movement ended in May, the government has appeared to be completely tone deaf with how it has treated Britain’s carers and key workers as the pandemic eases. The government’s refusal to U-turn on a decision to scrap blanket free parking in hospitals for NHS workers is one such example of Ministers’ blinker vision.
At Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital in London – the same hospital where Boris Johnson was admitted into intensive care after contracting Covid-19 – it would cost an NHS worker around £70 to park for the day.
Free parking for NHS workers should have been the norm before the pandemic, but at a time when people are being encouraged to avoid public transport due to the obvious health risks involved, the decision to scrap free hospital parking has been met with fury.
When challenged on the government’s unwillingness to budge by the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Johnson told Sir Keir Starmer to, ‘take his latest bandwagon and park it free somewhere else’. Read the room Boris.
The car parking row is yet another incident in which the government has hurt those who they spent weeks applauding and campaigning to protect. This is not the first time that the government has made NHS workers pay for the privilege to save lives. I bring your attention to the government’s plans to increase the NHS surcharge from the current £400 to £624.
A large percentage of NHS staff come from abroad. As a result of the new policy, they will now be subjected to pay this increased fee. This on top of taxes and national insurance. They are paying for the very service they are propping up.
Some have questioned why overseas NHS staff have to pay anything at all. Without them, many more deaths would have arguably occurred given the well-known staff shortages. A policy that aims to increase the amount one has to pay to the NHS will only serve to deter health workers from all over the world from working in UK NHS hospitals.
This government has a habit of rewarding NHS staff for their service and physical human sacrifices, with hard financial penalties. In recent weeks, student nurses who joined the frontline prematurely in order to combat the pandemic, had their contracts terminated early.
Student NHS workers are at the bottom of the food chain in the health sector. Theresa May’s government scrapped an NHS bursary system for student nurses and midwives in 2015, which has since lead to the current government introducing the NHS Learning Support Fund. This will provide non-repayable grants of up to £8,000 per year for both new and current student healthcare professionals, but leave those students who started between 2015 and September last year in the lurch.
Many student NHS workers balance their work placements with other ‘Saturday jobs’, alongside their actual studies. While this week, Helen Whately, a Conservative MP said that student nurses were ‘not deemed to be providing a service’, in response to a petition for more financial aid for student health workers.
Giving with one hand and taking away with the other seems to be the Conservative’s party policy. The hope of a Covid-free world and a return to normality continues to look like a remote possibility, but this has not stopped the present government from betraying it’s NHS heroes.
Featured Image: Health.mil