NHS workers in the South East call on government to show its appreciation

An early pay rise of at least £2,000 to every NHS worker is needed

Health staff across the South East of England – including nurses, paramedics, cleaners, domestics and porters – are beginning two days of campaigning today (Thursday) urging the government to give an early, significant pay rise of at least £2,000 to every worker in the NHS.

Staff in UNISON branches based in NHS hospitals, ambulance stations and clinics will be using social media and taking part in socially distanced events to press home the message that health workers deserve much more than applause for their efforts during the pandemic.

Health workers know the public backs an early NHS pay rise, but now want to see the government show its appreciation for staff by bringing forward the pay rise due in April.

UNISON’s pay claim – delivered to Downing Street last month – would see every NHS employee receive an increase of at least £2,000 by the end of the year.

This early wage increase – equivalent to around £1 an hour extra for all staff – could give ailing local economies a much-needed boost as workers spend the extra money in their pockets on the high street, says UNISON.

With the arrival of autumn, and the increasing rates of infection, UNISON believes now is the perfect time for the government to show the high regard in which ministers say they hold NHS staff.

UNISON South East regional secretary Steve Torrance said: “Infection rates are rising in care homes and out in the wider community, and hospital admissions are on the up.

“The pressure on staff is beginning to build again, as the NHS tries to open services shut earlier in the year and deal with the backlog of cancelled appointments and operations.

“That’s why now would be the perfect time for the Prime Minister and Chancellor to show they can do more than clap for NHS staff, and demonstrate their appreciation in a much more practical way.

“Boris Johnson’s pie in the sky plans for any time, any place, anywhere ‘moonshot’ testing would cost a mindboggling £100bn. An early pay rise for NHS staff would be a tiny fraction of that and would make a huge difference to individuals and the services they help provide.

“Investing in the NHS and its incredible staff is a must for the government. It would help the health service tackle the mounting staff shortages that were already causing huge problems even before the virus hit.

“An early pay rise would also be the country’s best way of saying a heartfelt thank you to every single member of the NHS team.”

Notes to editors:

– According to UNISON/Savanta ComRes polling published in July, a majority of the public (69%) think all NHS staff should get an early pay rise. Two thirds (66%) of the public believe a wage increase for employees should be significant in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. An overwhelming majority (85%) believe pay should increase.
– UNISON estimates that a £2,000 pay rise for all NHS staff would cost around £2.8bn in England (plus additional spending in the devolved administrations).
– Agenda for Change staff in the NHS are currently covered by a three-year pay and reform deal, due to end on 31 March 2021.
– The UNISON claim is for an increase of at least £2,000 to every point on the NHS salary scale. This would take minimum earnings up from around £18,000 to £20,005 and take the lowest rate in the NHS above the real living wage. The £2,000 would be worth 8% for a newly qualified band 5 worker (for example, a nurse, paramedic or IT manager) and would take their annual salary to £26,907.
– Mark Inch is a trainee clinical scientist at Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust. Mark said: “A pay rise for my role would be much appreciated and recognise the sacrifices all NHS staff have made to care for patients throughout the pandemic. But for lower paid staff who daily perform gruelling and dangerous tasks working in live Covid areas, a pay rise now is absolutely essential to help allow them a decent standard of living and to gain the dignity they deserve.”
– Brenda Leppard is a switchboard operator at St Mary’s Hospital on the Isle of Wight. Brenda said: “My colleagues and I work so hard for what is a public service that we should treasure in every way; I cannot imagine life without our NHS. I feel the demands on switchboard operators are underestimated and the pressure we are under everyday has been a real eye opener to me. A pay rise this year would be a recognition of our hard work and loyalty during the Covid crisis and would be well deserved by all my amazing NHS colleagues here on the Isle of Wight and nationwide.”
– UNISON is the UK’s largest union, with more than 1.3 million members providing public services – in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in the public, voluntary and private sectors.

Media contacts:
Kieran Pearson M: 07432 741595 E: k.pearson@unison.co.uk
National Press Office E: press@unison.co.uk