Health campaigners and NHS workers gathered in solidarity outside Whipps Cross Hospital yesterday to condemn the government's decision not to implement a one per cent pay rise.

The two-hour protest at the entrance of the Leytonstone hospital was in response to a national 'Day of Action' by UNISON members and the Royal College of Nursing.

In March, the government overturned a recommendation by the Independent Pay Review Body (PRB) to give all NHS staff a one per cent pay rise because they argued the expense would lead to job losses.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said: "NHS staff are our greatest asset. We cannot afford a pay rise on top of incremental pay increases of up to six per cent without risking frontline jobs and safe staffing levels."

Former Whipps Cross employee and union rep for UNISON's Waltham Forest Branch, Charlotte Monro, gave a speech outside the hospital. 

She told the public: "Health workers work extremely hard with a high level of commitment and we're being put in a position by this government of trying to cope with less and less pay."

Members of the newly-founded political group, the Waltham Forest National Health Action Group, (NHA) joined demonstrations outside London Hospitals.

Founder of the borough's NHA group, Andrew Sharp, said NHS workers deserve to be properly compensated for the essential life-saving services they offer.

He said: "It is important that we stand by the staff as they demand proper pay increases. The down banding of nursing staff at Whipps Cross and now the miserly one per cent pay rise offer nationally are symptoms of the same problems.

"Staff are paying not only for the real terms cuts to NHS funding under the coalition government but they are also funding the massive PFI debts incurred for new hospitals nationwide including the Royal London at Whitechapel."

The Private Finance Initiative project for the Royal London Hospital, run by Barts Health cost £650 million. 

RCN London regional director Bernell Bussue said nursing staff in London have every right to be angry for being "undervalued".

He added: "many NHS staff will end up facing a four year pay freeze, at a time when the cost of living has continued to spiral upwards."

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt says if the government was to adopt the PRB recommendations; it would be a health risk for patients as up to 6,000 nurses would be laid off.