The news came on the second day of a 48-hour walkout by radiographers in England. Consultants have already announced that they will strike for two days from Thursday 24 August.
The members of the Society of Radiographers struck at 37 trusts. That brought important diagnostics, such as x-rays, ultrasounds, and CT and MRI scans to a halt.
The combined effect of the strikes will be huge—and will rock the Tories and their pledge to cut hospital waiting lists.
Amandeep Kaur, a striking radiographer in south London, said she was “really happy” with the turnout on her picket line, and buoyed by news from the doctors.
“In the hospital, we are a team – doctors and radiographers work together. We’ve got to act collectively in the fight for better pay too,” she told Socialist Worker.
Amandeep described the intensity of work as “overwhelming”. “We are so understaffed and have to see so many patients in so little time,” she said.
“I work in breast screening. We are allocated just 8 minutes per patient and are expected to x-ray 40 – 50 women a shift. Therefore, I and several colleagues have got repetitive strain injuries.
“A lot of the people I work with are older than me and have done the job for a long time. But the rate of work now means that there are too few people that want to come into the profession.”
And it’s not just overwork that drives people away from radiography. Amandeep says low pay is also attritional.
“Radiographers do a three-year degree to qualify, but you learn lots of the most important skills on the job – such as how best to communicate and show empathy with patients,” she says.
“But none of that is reflected in our pay. Like many others, I often work extra weekends as overtime just to make ends meet.”
But Amandeep says this week’s strike has lifted her spirits. “My department is quite separate from all the other radiographers, so I wasn’t sure how many there would be on the picket line,” she said.
“But on the day, lots of my colleagues came out and I was really chuffed by the numbers. And, we were joined by a consultant who came out to show us support. That’s what we need. We are all in this together.”
Emily, a radiographer in Bristol agrees. From a loud and lively picket line at the city’s Royal Infirmary, she told Socialist Worker there was a good chance that radiographers’ strikes will escalate.
“We’ve got the appetite to keep going,” she said. “This has been building for years and we’ll do what we have to do because the problem isn’t going away.”
The combined fight of radiographers and doctors means the NHS pay battle is hotting up once again. Everyone who backs the NHS against the Tories should make sure that all strikers feel the warmth of solidarity.
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