Karen Martin – Nurse – A Response To The Nurse Who Cried Foodbank

May 22, 2017

By Pat Mcewan



Right well the Leaders Debate same old same old SNP bad, no getting a referendum, SNP bad but as hard as Ruth Davidson, Kezia and co tired they couldn’t land a blow on Nicola Sturgeon then it changed. You see in the audience waiting like a tiger prowling it’s pray was Claire Austin a nurse with a question, it was her second appearance on BBC in weeks after being on Question Time but at the time didn’t get to ask her question so she had been invited back to ask it this time fair enough no problem.

This was a passionate question one which she delivered with great vigour and one that she would demanded a answer, deserved an answer More Pay For Nurses. Fair point I thought our NHS staff deserve all the money we can give them then the she delivered the Kicker she has to get her food from a foodbank.

What wow no way foodbanks wow I never realised our NHS was that seriously in trouble , I knew about the cuts , I knew about the threat of privatisation but our nurses starving now I might be an Indy supporter and have a soft spot for the SNP ( ok a huge soft spot) but nurses starving that’s not on, these are the people who save our lives it’s just not on. I spent the rest of the show wondering how could we live in a society where our nurses are having to visit foodbanks wow.

Now as anyone reading this must know by now the following morning social media was awash with stories Claire Austin was a councillors wife then daughter visits to New York and the list went on BBC plant, Tory Plant, egg plant the list went on. To be honest it made me turn off my phone and social media to let it sink in when a sudden thought crossed my mind its doesn’t matter who that woman is related too or what she eats for dinner do our Nurses really need to use foodbanks because of what we pay them. I had heard we pay them more than England but there Jnr Doctors have been striking could this woman be telling the truth. This is when I came across Nurse Karen Martin.

Now who is Karen Martin to talk about this subject well Karen has worked as a Nurse for 38 years and is a Band 7 nursing sister in a kids hospital and is in charge of a huge theatre/ recovery department with staff of all grades and remember a band 5 nurse in Dundee will get paid the same as a Band 5 in Paisley, as will a Band 7 in Glasgow  will get paid the same as a Band 7 in Edinburgh ok. So at this point I will pass you over to the words of Karen Martin who with the breaking of this story feels and wants to put the public straight on this subject.

This is what Karen had to say
“Just to dispel the rapidly growing myths around this nurse and her salary I’d like to spell out exactly what she lied about in terms of that salary and why so many nurses are up in arms about it!
She works for the NHS as a staff nurse, (although she herself claims to be a charge nurse in a busy A&E), however for the sake of this exercise I’ll place her on the lowest band for staff nurses in Scotland. That’s the whole of Scotland because no matter where you work in the NHS the salary structure is identical. The least a newly qualified staff nurse would earn on a Band 5 is just shy of £22, 000. This rises year on year incrimentally for 6yrs to the Band maximum of £28,180.

She herself states that she has been working for many years so she cannot be stuck on the starting scale, it doesn’t work that way. Anyone working for 6yrs will have reached their Band max. If indeed she is a charge nurse as she claims on her LinkedIn then that would be Band 6 which starts at £26,041 and again incrimentally rises to £34,876. So you see there’s no way for a qualified registered nurse to be stuck at £22,000 as she claims. Furthermore she also works with RMR an agency I myself have done shifts for in the past and the pay is very lucrative compared to NHS payscales, so much so that most hospitals are now forbidden to use this agency.

So no matter how you look at this then that woman is not as skint as she claims to be! She blatantly lied about her pay and anything else that followed also has to be suspect. She lied knowing full well that nurses salaries are published and in the public domain, and also knowing there were bound to be nurses watching who would know instantly she was lying, clearly she didn’t care about that either. That I find both particularly perplexing and shameful.

The fact this attack on the Scottish government was allowed to take place during a debate for the GE is beyond the pale and highly questionable especially given the Scottish government have honoured the Pay Review Body recommendations, whilst Westminster has not is even more disgusting. It means that we in Scotland are paid more than our colleagues in England and Wales, albeit only by 1% per annum, but over the past few years that has mounted to a fairly sizeable gap.

Can I also say I agree with those who have said that the SNP government need to stop being so mealy mouthed and polite, and start being more aggressively assertive. They need to start attacking more, as this should be about highlighting their successes but more importantly Westminsters failings. This is not about the Scottish government and should never have been allowed to happen during a debate about a Westminster election, but then again it is the BBC so they will take any opportunity to divert attention away from where it’s supposed to be…..on the failings of Westminster!”

So there you go the nice lady on the leaders debate might not be related to a councillor and all her trips might have been paid by her friends and family but her statement about Nurses having to feed themselves at foodbanks is a blatant lie unless they are terrible with her money.

I would like to thank Karen Martin for coming forward and telling us like it is and giving us the truth on the subject, why Claire Austin spun it the way she did you would have to ask her and chances are we will never know so thanks again to Karen for letting me print this, I tip my hat to you and all who work in our NHS.

image NHS Scotland  foodbank donations  Nurses  featured image  food cans



  1. Gordon Chalmers

    Claire Austin bought a house in Tobermory for around £700k about 11 years ago, sold it for a bit of a loss as she couldn’t settle here. It’s believed she had received a huge settlement from NHS for catastrophic damage done to her disabled son (cannot verify) which allowed her to buy this extensive property complete with swimming pool for the wee one. No gripes from me if true. But NOTHING about her foodbank story has the ring of truth. She has already recanted on the foodbank thing (unless someone has created a false Twitter page for her) and I wouldn’t believe a word she says.

    • m boyd

      Are you being serious re the house transaction? If so, I will check with the land registers/Register of Saint in the morning. It’s a public register and has to be disclosed.

    • alasdairB

      There was a Claire Austin & partner Jo running the upmarket ‘Ptarmigan’ Guest House, with swimming pool, on the Isle of Mull during
      summer of 2007. It billed itself as 5 star & the recorded guest experience was very good.
      The property was sold in June 2008 for £650,000 and now trades as ‘Sonas’

    • Blether

      I didn’t see any recanting on her Twitter page, Gordon. Can you paste a link? She’s certainly unrepentant on Facebook as of today. She’s just shared a large portion of mince from Kezia Dugdale, shadow branch manager for truth.


      There are reports from 2007 an TripAdvisor for a property “Ptarmigan House” in Tobermory, run by “Claire Austin”. The property’s now run by a Ms. Mackay – I found a record online for it changing hands in 2006 and again in 2007.

      Those dates fit nicely with Austin’s LinkedIn studies – international business and adventure travel management from 2003-2006, then nursing at Napier from 2009.

  2. Joyce Drysdale

    I wonder what the NMC is making of this situation? Has anyone made a formal complaint about this nurse and her blatant lies, on national television?

  3. Sandra Bennett

    It was patently obvious that this so called Nurse was fibbing,I too worked for 40 years as a Nurse and was a RCN
    Rep, we dealt with Pay and all it entails.Our Nurses are highly skilled and dedicated professionals,they do deserve more recognition but to say she and many here use food banks ,beggars belief.The English Nurses did not get their 1% whilst they were on the Increment path,and looking at their Salaries ,they are quite below the Scottish Nurses because they have had theirs each time,rewarded by SNP.
    Goodness ,I wouldn’t like to be in her shoes when she goes back to work.

  4. James Youngson

    Karen Martin ..Thanks for letting the public know about how it is impossible for Claire Austin to be in the lowest pay rate she had suggested to our First Minster , therefore, a liar and I believe a plant in the audience to down the SNP and First Minster ..She should be made to Apologise on television to settle this case once and for all ..

  5. Phil devitt

    Thanks for the perspective.

  6. alexander nicol

    Thank you, Karen Martin, for speaking out and putting the record straight , I hope people read this

  7. Margaret Brown

    A very clear statement , thank you.I am on of the nurses who was enraged at ms Austin’s attack and comments and feel she dishonoured a proud profession with her blatant lies. A nurse who lies is not a trustworthy person and above all else, nurses should be honest and trustworthy. It was not a rant at a politician on behalf of low paid nurses. She used nurse salaries simply to score political points. She is a disgrace to the profession.

  8. John Rattray

    Agree wholeheartedly, the nurse may have spun a story but the BBC are responsible for this question being aimed at Nicola Sturgeon when it should have been aimed at Ruth Davidson.

  9. johnny rudkin

    the bbc set up this debate to coincide with the forth coming general election for seats at the westminster parliament debates should have been about the tory policy in their manifesto things like the loss of pensioners heating allowance or the death tax where the government will sell your home to pay for any care you have had in your old age but no sarah smith thought she could put nicola in her place by inviting a nurse that had previously been on question time to attack nicola sturgeon
    on nurses wages then blame the snp for saying nasty things about her

    • Helen McPherson

      I am totally disgusted by this – how corrupt is out polital system @ hat they will tell blatant lies to win votes but more that that how nieve are we to believe them without question – now that it is all being exposed as as a set up by the media we are up on arms it should never have happened therecis something wrong when our prime minister does not take part in any electoral or declare what in fact the Tory Manifesto is and and media such as BBC can say and do what they want – the result is voters get so disheartenedvby thevwho corrupt procesd they dont vote – this was never about nurses pay rise and let me make it clear we can never pay our NHS stsff enough but it was about lying manipulation and corruption – how much longer are we Joe public going to allow this to go on

  10. BLMac

    Once again I can congratulate myself on missing out on getting the BBC’s raw sewage pumped into my house.

    The propaganda is so blatant it is beyond a joke.

    First priority after independence should be to disband the BBC in Scotland – completely exterminate it. Then start a new service with no personnel from the old one.

    • Ian

      Well said 👍

    • Derek Hamilton

      Totally agree..totally disband the news and current affairs department along with the controller and a new broadcaster formed with funding not provided by any government … not even SNP.
      News broadcasting and reporting should be free of all government intervention.

  11. Ian Anderson

    The SNP need to get after these people who twist the truth and dispel the rubbish they are spouting. Same goes for the media. I want to see the party laying out the facts and start to demolish the Unionist parties propaganda.

    • Fiona Johnston

      The SNP government are too busy doing the day job to spend the amount of time and money it would take. They are also careful about how they spend our money. That is why the nurses are better paid than there English colleagues. That is why Nicola Sturgeon is able to face her detractors and debate reasonably with them…she is involved, meets people of all kinds and beliefs and listens. She also makes the effort to be well informed and can quote reliable facts ( that can be researched for confirmation) . She is also able to accept criticism and admit S G does not get everything right. Whereas……? Judge for yourselves!

  12. Danny Ross

    Any nurse would have come to the same conclusion.
    My first thought was that she must be newly qualified and may have had to use food banks as a student. However if she has been working in the NHS as long as she claims then she can’t be at the bottom of the scale.
    I don’t know the real story however her colleagues will.How can she hold her head up in front of nursing assistants,domestics and portering staff who will never make the money she does.I know many nurses who have been angered by what she has done myself included.
    I’ve been nursing over 25 years and I’m doing OK.We would all like more money but we all know the reality of the situation in the NHS.

    • Carol Forsyth

      What a wonderfully honest statement Danny. I commend you too for sticking up for domestics and porters and others working in the NHS who will be on lower pay grades. I hugely value all staff working for NHS and do believe you should be paid more. However, like yourself I realise that we don’t have bottomless resources and pay has been kept to 1% increases. The woman on television was so obviously a plant. Despicable behaviour both from her and the BBC for allowing the subject to be aimed at the First Minister. Kezia Dugdale’s reaction seemed too rehearsed I have to say. It was she who reintroduced “this poor nurse who has to use food banks” at a later stage.

  13. Frances McKie

    If only people paid attention to the much worse situation in England.

    • Anna

      The much worse situation in England is a direct consequence of this conniving , contriving, injustice, lies, incompetence and corruption of Westminster .

      • Anna

        My daughter, a single parent, lives on much less, by the time she pays her mortgage she has little left, has never been in debt, never had a holiday, cant afford to socialise…….if she did, she would be depending on foodbanks!! Its down to prioritising . Your lifestyle is a personal choice -not the publics responsibility.

    • William Thomson

      Frances McKie hits the nail on the head-things are a lot worse south of the border in all aspects of daily life-NHS,Education etc etc etc-I lived in North Worcestershire for 5-1/2 years so I have seen it for myself. I challenge anyone considering voting for any other party other than the true scottish party-and I’m no a fan or member of any-to go live down south for a month or 2-then you will see how lucky we are that we have a devolved government that stands up for Scotland AND the Scottish people

  14. George

    If this is true , I think it is disgusting and an insult to all our NHS staff.
    And the fact that the BBC would actually “PLANT”a puppet in a debate,which will determine the future of our country is a disgrace.
    What’s even more abhorrent is that we have to pay the BBC for the privilege of been LIED TO…

    • Louise

      I’m with you but unfortunately, the BBC have the entire population over a barrel. They should remember who pays their inflated wages.

  15. a reynolds

    I didn’t/ don’t see another nurses having the ball to ask ‘the wage question’ to a live political debating team. With regards to her personal finance situation,stop cross analysing it. She works part-time as a band 5 now, so the salary she indication is realistic. Your presumption is that she is full time. Spend you time getting facts right. Or going out there striking or going on question time and air your views.

    • Anna

      If they were going allow her to ask the question she should asked it of both Government leaders. The NHS in Scotland is devolved, it would have been fair to hear Ruth Davidsons explanation why English nurses get less and why Theresa May refused to accept their invitation to discuss their pay, before subjecting Sturgeon to unjustified criticism surely?

    • Shirley Buchanan

      She also works for at least one agency making far more than NHS rates and has now admitted she didn’t use food banks. Who else is asked to come back on a following show because they didn’t get to ask their question? (Which by the way was nothing to do with the general election.) Only so the producers can try to embarass the FM

    • Karen Martin

      Hello Stuart you can get me on messenger. Thanks.

  16. Andrew Rae

    I am a band 5 Staff Nurse on top increment. On my salary alone I support my wife and myself, and have never required to go to a food bank. On this salary I own 3 cars and regularly run 2 of them. I also have a mortgage. I’m not saying that nurses are well paid, but equally any nurse that needs to use a food bank is having serious issues dealing with money.

  17. twathater

    Thank you Karen and ALL your colleagues for the sterling work that you all do , I have had (unfortunately due to health ) many occasions to interact with your profession, and I have found almost 100% caring and compassionate individuals.

    This lady in colluding with the BBC’s disgusting and amoral directive, to corrupt the democratic choice of politics and stain the FM will not diminish the heartfelt feelings that the public at large feel for our wonderful SNHS workers.

    Thank You and your colleagues for your dedication

  18. Iain

    Maybe the next question should be along the lines of: ‘Is the Claire Austin abusing food banks by availing herself of them when not entitled to them – and therefore depriving people who are genuinely needy?’ Anyone working at a food bank recognise her as one of their patrons?

  19. Retired Midwife

    karen Martin – shame on you. NMC do something about this.

    • tricia

      surely you mean shame on Claire Austin for lying? Karen Martin merely stated facts.

  20. Karen Martin

    Firstly I’d like to address the point George made “if this is true”. Actually it’s slightly inaccurate in as much as I didn’t include this years’ pay increase so the figures for a Band 5 and 6 are now actually a bit higher than I initially stated. Other than that the figures are there for anyone to check.
    Secondly, to A Reynolds at no point have I attempted to “cross analyse” her personal financial situation. I have presumed nothing, nor given an opinion on the lady herself, I have merely posted facts on the salary structure within NHS Scotland that anyone can check. However, having said that this woman left herself open to public scrutiny when she voluntarily appeared on national TV and proceeded to lie through her teeth. In doing so she has breeched the trust of the very people she is supposed to care for. Worse still she appeared to do it in order to score some political point. So she, and she alone, is responsible for the situation she now finds herself in as she was a willing participant.
    Furthermore why would I, or any of my colleagues for that matter want to strike? Why should we go out on strike? This is another piece of fiction put out by this woman and one which has upset so many of my colleagues and fellow nurses because it’s such a blatant lie! So I don’t need to be told to check my facts as my post was fact!

    • Derek Hamilton

      Very well said Karen. You have stated the facts and no one can dispute them. Thank you.

    • Macandroid

      Well said. Thank you.

    • A Reynolds

      Hi Karen my response to you reply, you said… Secondly, to A Reynolds at no point have I attempted to “cross analyse” her personal financial situation. I have presumed nothing, nor given an opinion on the lady herself. Did you not write this…So you see there’s no way for a qualified registered nurse to be stuck at £22,000 as she claims ….and this…So no matter how you look at this then that woman is not as skint as she claims to be! She blatantly lied about her pay. Karen You are in fact presuming, analysing and commenting on her salary. As I stated she works part time as a band 5, can you please get your fact right before publishing this.I actually know her…do you? Act like a professional and consider you own conduct.don’t be so quick to judge others, you are from a caring profession after all. Opinion are important, but they must be based on fact, no presumption.

    • A Reynolds

      With regards to striking, everyone has the right to choose to, or not. You are not made to strike, people choose to become they are so fed up, are passionate and want change. A comfortable salary at band 7 as yours, is perhaps the reason your not bothered about pay, and thus wouldn’t strike. But imagine if you have been nursing for 20years as a band 5, or a band 2, I would expect folk like that are demoralised a 1% pay rises year after year. You have singled out one nurse who had the strength to speak up and make some very valid points. She has clearly upset you, but she will have empowered others.

      • Madeleine

        Mr Reynolds the nurse in question singled herself out. She has no defence for what she did.

  21. Billy Forbes

    Thanks karen the more you read through what you put in your letter the more I doubt Claire’s intensions, Claire Austin may have had nurses best interests at heart but instead of keeping to the plan she chose to twist thongs around.
    This constant nurses having to rely on foodbans was starting to bug me.
    Don’t get me wrong she has the right to question Nicola but if your going to do this on live tv state the truth or it will come back to haunt youand bite you on the ass

  22. Edward Hunt

    How low can the BBC get this was a plant to discredit the SNP. Not only that it proves that the BBC is using public funds to back a political party to sow lies against the will of the Scottish people. There licence should be revoked as they are not impartial they are acting like they part of the Conservative election team.

  23. James Mcvean

    Well said Karen Martin

  24. Steven Angus


    Thank you for your detailed analysis and fair representation of the situation.
    I am currently “living” in hospital as my wife recovers from a serious injury. Her recovery is hindered by a pre-existent progressive illness.
    Suffice to say that I am in complete admiration for the care, dedication and professionalism displayed each and every day and night by the nursing staff at Forth Valley Royal.
    It would sadden me greatly to think that nurses were reliant on food banks in 2017.
    I am also saddened to think that one of their own has lied in such a despicable manner solely for political reasons.
    She really ought to be ashamed.

  25. Bruce Davidson

    Isn’t it possible she is being paid a basic band5 (albeit agency rate) since the agency don’t have to take into account her experience- just pay her the going rate for the role. That doesn’t tally with her claim to be a charge nurse though , since she would then be minimum band 6.. Important point of detail- if she works for an agency then she works IN the NHS not FOR the NHS (as I sometimes do) and is basically a private contractor

    • Blether

      Her LinkedIn profile said “I have 3 employers: NHS, SNG, RMR”. ALso said she works Jersey, Guernseyu, IoM, which one would guess is through RMR. I expect she declares the earnings from that to the tax man, too.


    MORE BBC PROPAGANDA. who are completely to blame for inviting someone back to ask a non westminster question and for encouraging subjective personal issues to be exploited. Although very far from perfect, the next night`s Reporting Scotland did at least give the true Scottish Nurses Pay Rates highlighting they are above UK rates and a statement from Trussel. However it laid the blame for the nurse`s consequent distress on social media abuse. No reference was made to the press who made her lifestyle an issue. Indeed, for example, the Daily Record still has it`s report available online. As an SNP member and a recently retired but still registered Community Psychiatric Nurse I have my own speculations about the nurse and in my view along with other nurses on here think it is likely that she will have consequences to face professionally. Indeed, if a Registered Nurse goes on TV and makes such extreme statements as if they are widespread in Scottish nursing and frequent in her own case, that is taking on a role of being a spokesperson for nurses so all the facts should have been infallible. Anecdotally, in all my 35 years nursing I have never heard of such breadline poverty, and I have also had many Nurses as patients as it`s a very demanding profession. We do deserve a decent pay-rise but the lack of one is due to UK Govt. austerity.

  27. Pearl park

    You would have to be a fool not to see her lying she was planted by the TORIE’S and should be made to answer for her lies I’m sick of hearing about her and ok the snp made a mistake to say she had married and MPs for which she got an apology

  28. Catherine McRorie

    some of this comments page seek to defend Nursey, stop it ! your either her BF or happy to defend a liar. She is a despicable liar & tried to make FM look bad, it back fired. Tell her to hide her face in shame. Just not on.

    • Blether

      Ask her to apologise to the public, to the nursing profession, to the Scottish government and to the First Minister. Twitter’s handy for something like that.

  29. Isobel Waller

    I was very angry as had spent all my working life in nursing and my husband also was a charge nurse we lived modest life styles and when there was a tory government Thatcher years things were often difficult -we took part in rallies all over the place including London for the NHS-but never ever did we reach food bank level We raised 2 kids none of us starved -my mother before me was left widowed with my self and sister aged 8 and 9 years old and she never need food banks , she knew how to use a sewing machine to make us clothes and also we grew vegetables in the back garden food was her top priority we never ate from tins everything was cooked sadly people do not know how to do that stuff now -but anyway there are those with real low incomes very very poor who do have to use food banks and it is disgraceful that trained nurse should be suggesting nurses use them -Thing is food banks are monitored to prevent scroungers who think that they may save a little by pretending to be poor going along to them and misusing them which has to be the case actually if that person manged to obtain vouchers and deprive a needy person place at that food bank shame on her if she did -some nurse ! who would do that sort of thing .

  30. Marilyn

    Thank you Karen. I tried to get my view of Nurse Austin across in 140 characters, but you have said exactly what I was thinking as I watched her performance. The level of her sincerity was akin to the acting skills of an amateur dramatics trooper. I’m an NHS grade 6 Deputy Charge Nurse in Scotland. Commenced Mental Health nurse training in 1983 and I’ve earned my own living from that day on. As an independent woman I bought and furnished my own house, raised my son…he’s 24 now, neither of us have ever wanted for anything. I’ve never struggled to pay bills or put seriously good pescatarian food on the table. We had holidays, the USA and Barcelona stand out for me, good times. And all of that without recourse to gifts from family/friends or running up debt of any kind. I strongly agree nurses deserve to be paid more, especially when you compare us to the top earning job categories, huge social injustice evident there. However, to claim that as a trained nurse in Scotland you would have to rely on food banks, as she did, is wrong. If you mismanage your income in some way then you might be skint for a month or two, but there’s no way you could justify taking food out of the mouths of people who actually need to use food banks. Another reason I’m disgusted at this nurse who was obviously using her profession to strike a blow against the SNP-led Scottish government…as a fellow nurse I was thinking…oh well done Nurse Austin, giving such a false impression is going to do wonders for recruitment.

  31. A Reynolds

    It appears some people as getting sucked in by the propaganda that she was a plant by the tories or the BBC! Maybe she was a clone and the words were in putted into her mouth?! Honestly how ridiculous, I suppose the SNP, NS actually agreed with some of what she said and apologised, for some of the rubbish written in the press. With regards to the report the nurse statements, this would need to be backed up with clear evidence to have any effect. However those members of the NMC who have written publically on social media, and sites like this making allegations and essentially bullying could in fact find themselves be investigated. So please be careful how you voice your views.

    • tricia young

      A Reynolds, What on earth are you talking about? No one is bullying Ms Austin, merely calling her out for what she is – a liar. No one, as far as I can see, is “essentially bullying” her. I am a band 5 nurse and I found her remarks totally outrageous, I am disgusted that you have written that NMC registrants making comments about this woman “could find themselves being investigated”. By whom and why? I think you need to be careful how you voice your views, you are either Ms Austin or “a friend” of hers.

  32. Anne.

    If U think there are grounds about the BBC’s conduct formally complain.Personally, I’d like to know who at BBC decided to invite Claire to appear on programme and then selected her to ask her question.

  33. W. Habib Steele

    A Reynalds, if she is workiing part time, and she has claimed to working full time, this another point against her character.

  34. mary ferguson

    The day before the general election BBC Reporting Scotland reminded viewers of the so called foodbank nurse making Nicola Sturgeon squirm. Still not reporting facts indeed, it was highlighted as a key moment of the election campaign. No corrections, no mention that the nurse had been fined for a breach of the peace by Lothian Police. Report in the Scottish Sun. [Not that I would have expected that, but I would have hoped that BBC Scotland would have left it out instead of revelling in their power]
    The BOP is a breach of NMC Code of Conduct. Sadly, BBC Scotland will not have to answer to any professional body.
    If there`s anyone posting on here, please advise the most efficient way to complain. Ie. is the official BBC complaints dept worth pursuing? I am utterly sickened by BBC bias


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