All eyes on the PM as NHS members await a real pay rise

NHS birthdayHealth branches across the region stepped up their campaign to another level last week, during the most recent ‘2 days for £2K’. The June events marked 300 days since UNISON first lodged their £2K pay claim for all NHS staff, and it is now likely that the Pay Review Body’s recommendation is sitting on the desk of the Prime Minister.  

With the decision on NHS pay now in the hands of the Government, activists and members from across the region came together in the evening of 23 June for an online rally. Chaired by Jenny Ford from the regional health committee, the evening featured some fantastic guest speakers including Helga Pile, (UNISON’s assistant head of Health) and the Shadow Health Secretary, Rt Hon Jon Ashworth MP.  We heard how much the public value NHS staff, the next steps for UNISON on NHS pay, and how members can get involved in the campaign by contacting their MP. Members were also encouraged to ensure their membership details are up to date ahead of consultation on the final pay offer.  

Across the region, health branches put on outdoor events at hospitals, gaining much support from the public and NHS staff alike.  

In Surrey & Sussex Heath an outdoor rally was attended by Sara Gorton (UNISON Head of health, pictured below) and over 150 members and colleagues from across the trust. 

Image of Sarah Gorton, UNISON head of health, speaking at an outdoor rally. She is accompanied by a UNISON organiser wearing a purple polo shirt


In Oxford, at Warneford Hospital, an outdoor stall attracted the attention of lots of NHS workers, who were encouraged to email their MP. The overwhelming sentiment was that the 1% pay offer from the government was unfair and insulting.  

image of a member of NHS staff standing outside a hopsital building. They are holding a banner that frames their face, that says 'we deserve a pay rise' In the background there are more banners that say 'We deserve a real pay rise' 

UNISON members in University Hospitals Sussex ran coordinated events across 4 of the main hospital sites, from Chichester to Haywards Heath, featuring campaign cupcakes and some excellent ‘dogs at demos’. Members were cheered by wide public support from passing traffic, demonstrating that the public really believe that the NHS are worth more than the miserly 1% offer. 

image of a box of cupcakes decorated with campaign message 'claps don't pay bills' there is a small black and tan dog next to the box of cakes


In Aylesbury, UNISON members from Bucks Health branch came out to show their support for a better pay increase for all NHS staff. There was an overwhelming feeling that 1% just isn’t good enough. Members of the public joined UNISON at our stall outside Stoke Mandeville hospital and were encouraging their friends and family to email their MP and put pressure on the government too.   

image shows four UNISON activists standing behind a table, they are holding placards asking for a pay rise for NHS staff South East head of health, Liam Kenny said:  

“Health Branches in the South East continue to be at the forefront of our fight for fair pay in the NHS. In the face of gruelling work schedules and ever-growing pressure to reduce waiting lists, our branches and activists have pulled out all the stops to hold events over the last days of action. This effort shows how much pay really means to our members, and how well that is represented by our branches and activists.” 

As the NHS turns 73 (NHS birthday is Monday 5 July), it faces some of the biggest challenges of its lifetime. The courageous health workers who have worked tirelessly throughout the COVID-19 pandemic have been hailed as national heroes. But, while NHS staff in Scotland are getting their pay rise, all other health workers are still waiting. 

This birthday, Boris Johnson has the power to do something important. To give NHS staff the gift of feeling valued, to give health workers a vital morale boost, to help the NHS keep and hire the staff it needs, to give a pay rise of £2,000 for everyone. 

UNISON has launched an open letter for thousands of NHS workers and their supporters to sign.  

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