Express & Star

Bridgnorth torchlight vigil to show support for striking NHS workers

A torchlight vigil will be held outside Bridgnorth Community Hospital next week to show solidarity for striking NHS workers across the country.

NHS supporters at the December vigil in Ludlow

The people of Bridgnorth will be able to show their support on Wednesday, January 18, at 5.30pm, to coincide with the Royal College of Nursing’s second phase of strike action on January 18 and 19.

The vigil, which will take place outside the barrier to the MIU hospital car park in Old Smithfield, was announced on Wednesday by Councillor Julia Buckley.

Councillor Buckley said: "Like Shrewsbury, Telford and Ludlow, we are having our own vigil in Bridgnorth to support NHS workers. Please come along and show your support."

Vigils will also take place in Shrewsbury, Telford, Wellington, and Ludlow on January 18, as nurses up and down the country take to the picket lines.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) announced the second stage of its strike action in December after the Government failed to say it would reopen pay negotiation talks.

Last week, the RCN's general secretary and chief executive Pat Cullen wrote to Steve Barclay, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, to demand urgent government action to tackle the crisis engulfing the NHS.

In the letter, she said: "In the first week of January, many have come to expect performance challenges in the NHS.

"However, I am compelled to put on record that what is unfolding in England’s health service this week is far from ordinary ‘winter pressures’.

"Nor can Covid and flu be blamed for the current performance of the NHS.

"I fear that, when so many nursing professionals are considering their future in this profession and record numbers have already left, this situation will push even more out of the NHS."

She went on to say: "Nursing staff are being forced to care for patients in corridors and other inappropriate locations against their own clinical judgement.

"This practice is grossly unsafe for the patient and the registered professional alike and the risk to life is severe.

"Furthermore, nursing these patients, many of whom are elderly and vulnerable, in such conditions is undignified and demeaning and should not be tolerated.

"Nursing leaders tell me of deep distress experienced when their teams are not able to give high-quality patient care in their areas of practice.

"They can see the systemic failures, due to years of underinvestment in capacity across all care settings, culminating in increased urgent and emergency presentation."

A spokesman for Shropshire Defend Our NHS said: "The NHS is in free fall. Medical experts say that up to 500 people are dying every week because emergency care is in crisis.

"We have 7.2 million people waiting for NHS treatment. The Government is in complete denial – and their current priorities seem to be to drive down NHS pay, refuse to talk to doctors, nurses or paramedics, and make the workforce crisis even worse.

"NHS workers are right to strike. They have no choice. Their fight is for pay – and for our health service to have a future.

"Let’s make 2023 the year we act to save the NHS. On January 18, we need Shropshire to stand together in saying: 'Solidarity with our NHS; solidarity with our NHS workers'."