STRIKING NHS workers may be forced to leave their jobs if pay rises to counter rising living costs are not introduced.
That was the message of staff on the picket line on Monday morning, who joined a nationwide four-hour walkout in protest overpay.
NHS workers across the Herald and Gazette area took part, including Worthing Hospital and Meadowfield Hospital.
Staff nurse of five years, Jane Sheppard, said: “I am on strike because I am having to work more hours than ever to make a decent wage. We need fairer pay.
“Inflation has gone up and our pay has stayed the same.
“I enjoy my job and don’t want to leave but i can’t see that I will be able to stay within the NHS if I don’t get fair pay rises.”
Around 30 workers gathered at the front of Worthing Hospital, in Lyndhurst Road, with a number of motorists tooting their horns in support.
The strike, led by six unions, came about after the Government awarded staff a one per cent pay increase but only for certain workers.
Those who are subject to incremental rises were not included in the rise.
The decision went against the recommendation of an independent pay review board, which advised a one per cent rise across the board.
Royal College of Midwives (RCM) representative and Worthing Hospital midwife, Kat Gummer, said: “Cost of living is going up, especially in the south, and pay is not going up in line with it.
“Staff are working long hours, doing a lot of unpaid overtime with no breaks over a 12 and a half hour shift, working late and often with not enough people.
“This is the first time RCM members have gone on strike in its 133-year history. Things have got pretty bad for people to be taking a stand.”
Another Worthing Hospital midwife, Jess Smart, was unimpressed with the lack of a pay rise for several years.
She said: “We are on strike due to being denied a one per cent pay rise for years on the trot – effectively a pay cut due to inflation – while managers and MPs get an 11 per cent rise.
“We work unpaid overtime every shift and work through our breaks and are understaffed and burnt out.”
Essential services were unaffected during the strike, as a core team of staff continued working. Staff were also taking part in four days of working to rule.
Denise Farmer, director of organisational development and leadership at Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We have worked closely with our staff and unions to ensure the safety of our patients remained paramount and that they experienced minimal disruption.”