Health workers in the South East urge local MPs to back early pay rise for exhausted staff and to protect the NHS  

Hundreds of health staff across the South East – including nurses, paramedics, cleaners, domestics and porters – are writing to the region’s 84 MPs asking them to back UNISON’s call for NHS staff to get an early pay rise in time for Christmas.

Staff employed in hospitals, clinics and ambulance stations across the South East are urging local politicians to put their case to the government for a significant pay rise of at least £2,000 for every worker across the NHS.

The NHS pay rise is due next April, but health workers, already worn out from the early stages of the pandemic, say bringing the increase forward would help staff feel more valued as the second wave surges.

Bringing the planned wage rise forward a few months would also place the NHS in a better position to face the future, say South East health workers.

The pandemic has affected staff profoundly and many may choose to leave the NHS, such are the levels of exhaustion says UNISON. Raising pay this year could persuade staff to change their minds and make the NHS more attractive to thousands of much-needed recruits, adds the union.

With the arrival of winter, the second virus wave 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: “Health workers are exhausted from the first virus peak. They’re now dealing with the second wave and a backlog of cancelled treatments.

“We can rely on them as always to protect and care for us all. But staff are fearful and anxious because they know what lies ahead.

“Now is the time for a significant pay rise from the government. Workers doing the job would then feel valued, and an increase could attract much-needed new recruits.”

South East health workers who’ve written to their local MPs include:

Mark a Clinical Scientist from Portsmouth who told his MP:

“If you were to tell the average person on the street, to work for 13 hours, while wearing a mask, visor, gloves and gown in stuffy conditions, all while surrounded by a deadly virus, most would refuse.”

“However, the NHS has people who sign up to do this for well below the average UK wage. And yet they turn up smiling, happy to help those in need, despite sometimes struggling to budget what little pay they receive.”

“They have kept the country running throughout the pandemic and they deserve more than clapping, they deserve to have their financial worries eliminated. Please support our campaign to increase their wages by a mere £2000.”


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Notes to editors: 

– Earlier in the year, a UNISON/Savanta ComRes poll showed that 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

– 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.


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