Preston healthcare worker's pay petition reaches target for Commons debate as recognition of NHS staff grows

A healthcare assistant from Preston who set up a petition calling for better pay and conditions for NHS support staff has seen the number of signatories skyrocket as the coronavirus crisis has developed.

Tuesday, 31st March 2020, 2:09 pm
Updated Tuesday, 31st March 2020, 2:10 pm

Shane Longton believes that the sudden surge in appreciation for all NHS workers in recent weeks could account for the growth in support for his campaign.

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'It's more than wiping bottoms': Preston NHS support worker calls for fairer pay

It initially appeared to have plateaued at around the 8,000 mark – far short of the 100,000 signatures needed for Shane to achieve his ultimate aim of securing a debate in Parliament on the issue.

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Healthcare assistant Shane Longton wants the issue of pay debated in Parliament

But he said the figure soared around the time of last week’s “clap for carers” event. The total now stands at 130,000 signatories and the parliamentary authorities will have to consider whether to grant a debate when the timetable in the Commons returns to normality.

“I was a bit cynical about the clapping when it was first mentioned, but when it happened it was actually a massive boost for all of us – and support for the petition did start to increase,” Shane said.

“But as much as it was a nice gesture, it doesn’t pay the bills and so I really want this discussed in Parliament. I don’t want the government to be able to say, ‘Here’s a nice little pay rise that you were going to get in April anyway’ and then leave it at that.

“All NHS staff – whether healthcare assistants, nurses or doctors – are now putting their lives on the line. We should all get what we deserve in terms of pay and also protective equipment.”

Shane launched the petition after a social media post – in which he listed all the responsibilities of healthcare assistants and said they amounted to much more than “wiping bottoms” – went viral.

And he has a message for anybody flouting the current lockdown rules.

“It’s a real slap in the face to see people not abiding by them – especially when NHS staff are risking so much to care for people.”

Shane also wished the Prime Minister a speedy recovery – not least so that he can lobby him directly to get the matter debate in the Commons.

“I need him fit and well so that I can go and see him if I have to,” Shane laughed.

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