On Tuesday, 3 October, radiographers and other NHS workers held nationwide strike action over low pay and poor working conditions across the service.
As part of the strike action, Leandre Archer, head of industry relations for the Society of Radiographers, addressed crowds gathered during a rally held in Manchester, which also coincided with the Conservative Party conference taking place in the city.
In her speech, Ms Archer highlighted the increasingly challenging working conditions radiographers are facing in the NHS, due to staff shortages, excessive hours, and pay stagnation. Read the full text of Ms Archer’s speech below:
Good afternoon, everyone, my name is Leandre Archer. I am head of industrial relations at SOR and I was a therapeutic radiographer before this. It’s an honour to speak at this rally today. I send a message of solidarity and support from the Society of Radiographers. Many of our members have travelled to Manchester today to stand with you and thousands are on picket lines right across England, taking 24 hours of strike action for better pay and conditions in our NHS.
We stand shoulder to shoulder today together in our fight for not only better pay, but to protect our professions. I am proud of every one of our members in SOR and in our sister unions who have made the difficult decision to take strike action today. It’s not where we want to be, but our members’ pleas for help have been left unaided.
Our members, like you, are struggling to make ends meet while the cost-of-living soars. Our members can't afford to pay for childcare or even to move out of their parents' homes. In fact, I spoke to a couple recently and they said whilst they wanted to strike, they couldn’t afford to lose the day's wages, as at the end of the month they have nothing.
Our members see as you do - patients deteriorating on ever-increasing waiting lists; they are working excessive hours to deal with increasing vacancies; they see our NHS being dismantled and dissected as they sell it off to the highest bidder. We say enough is enough!
This is a government that thinks claps are enough to keep the NHS going whilst they pat themselves on the back in conference halls; A government that says it’s dealing with waiting lists but won’t deal with the workforce requirements; A government that continues to bury its head in the sand until we go away. Well, we are not going anywhere. Hear the roar of opposition to what this government is doing, hear our voices loud and clear Rishi Sunak!
We have given them multiple opportunities to put a decent offer on the table, an offer that will deal with the crisis in recruitment, and retention of both the radiography and medical workforces, an offer that will deal with pay restoration and years of derisory pay awards. It’s not that they can’t - it's that they won’t!
[Health secretary] Steve Barclay, you talk about dealing with cancer, buying new scanners, and rolling out CDC’s [community diagnostic centres] yet there is no talk about the radiographers required to operate this equipment. It’s all the gear and no idea!b You fail to recognize and value the NHS workforce, and in that you fail as the guardian of the NHS.
The NHS is sacred not to those that are meeting in that conference hall, but to us standing here, to those that are waiting for a timely diagnosis and treatment, to those standing on picket lines right across the country, and we will continue to stand and fight for as long as it takes to protect it and its workers.
Solidarity to all! Thank you.