UK medics protest, seek hefty pay raise after coronavirus pandemic struggle

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Hundreds of health care workers rallied in British cities on Saturday, demanding the government acknowledge their hard work during the coronavirus pandemic with a hefty pay increase.

In London, demonstrators -- most wearing masks and observing social distancing -- marched to the gates of Downing Street, home to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, chanting, “Boris Johnson, hear us shout. Pay us properly or get out.”

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Medics have been hailed as heroes during the pandemic by the government and public. But some say a decade of public spending cuts by Johnson and previous Conservative prime ministers left the state-funded National Health Service struggling to cope.

Read more: Coronavirus infections cross 19.4 mln worldwide, based on official figures

A placard carried by a protester in Glasgow, Scotland, said “Enough empty praise. (Give us) a fair raise.” Another read: “Who saved you, Boris?”

Johnson contracted COVID-19 and spent three nights in intensive care at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London. He later thanked staff there for saving his life.

Nurses, care assistants and junior doctors are angry that they were left out of plans to give an above-inflation pay raise to almost 1 million public sector workers because they have a different contract with the government.

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Dave Carr, a critical care nurse at St. Thomas’ Hospital, said working through the outbreak was “the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life and we’re all exhausted.”

“We’re on our knees, absolutely on our knees. And on top of it they give 900,000 public sector workers a pay rise — and I haven’t got a problem with that — but they carve us out,” he said.

“I’m absolutely fuming. Tired and fuming. We’ve had enough.”

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