STAFF and supporters took to the streets to demand support for 'struggling' NHS workers in the city due to a growing staffing crisis.

The march, which is now in its third year, started in Manzil Way on Saturday before heading down Cowley Road towards Radcliffe Square amid chants of ‘Whose NHS? Our NHS’, calls to remove the current Conservative Government, and against the privatisation of cancer scanning at the Churchill Hospital.

Oxford Mail:

It comes after Oxfordshire County Council’s Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee agreed a motion of no confidence in Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust last week following its decision to close Oxford Community Hospital over safety concerns due to a lack of nurses, with councillors condemning a lack of communication.

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The county is facing increasing problems across all its hospitals filling vacant positions, with Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust breaching a cap set by the NHS regulator on agency worker spending in order to keep wards running safely.

Louisa Fawcett, who led a group of podiatrists from Oxford Health calling for an Oxford weighting in wages similar to the one given to London NHS staff as well as the return of bursaries for nurses, said: “Patients are suffering. It’s like we are constantly putting out fires.

Oxford Mail:

"Staff turnover is high and there are vacancies because it is so hard to afford to live here.”

Dawn Holland, a community podiatrist who moved to the county from Northamptonshire two years ago, said: “I’m in NHS accommodation but the high cost of living here means it’s a struggle sometimes.”

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Lauren Nutt, who works as a nurse in Oxford, said she was marching over the "ongoing crisis over staffing" and the "underfunding of our NHS".

Among the speakers was mental health worker and Unite Oxfordshire health branch secretary Khadj Rouf who said: “The Government may say it’s poured millions in but where is it? I don’t see it, what we do see is a rise in stress at work and distress in communities.”

Oxford Mail:

She added the biggest cause of stress was down to workload and added: “Stress is high when your wage won’t stretch to cover you cost of living.”

A coach from Banbury brought dozens of supporters, with Ken Hopkins, from Keep the Horton General, explaining problems in Oxford had a knock-on effect across the whole of the county.

He added: "We are here in support of nurses, against privatisation and a lack of funding across the whole NHS.

ALSO READ: Oxford University Hospitals forced to break agency spending cap

"What happens in Oxford makes it more difficult for patients in Banbury to get treatment."

Ian Mckendrick, communications officer for Oxfordshire Unison health branch who organised the march, told the around 200 gathered it was a 'struggle' to get high numbers out because NHS workers were tired from their heavy workloads but he believed the fight was winnable.

He added: "How can they resist us if we mobilise?"