Health workers flag the benefits an inflation-busting pay rise would bring to the NHS

The government must wake up to the fact that nothing less than an above-inflation rise will do, says UNISON.

Health workers are holding events across the South East of England today (Friday) to mark the day they should have been receiving their pay rise, says UNISON.

They include UNISON activists leafletting staff during shift changes at Southampton General, John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford and St Peter’s hospital in Surrey. Other events include lunchtime stalls in hospital canteens and drop-in sessions for staff at hospitals across Milton Keyes, Hampshire, Kent and Sussex.

An above-inflation pay rise would help the NHS compete with other employers for valuable staff, says UNISON.

Research by the union shows that major names on the high street including Amazon and Aldi are promoting wages which exceed NHS rates, making thousands of health staff​ including 999 call handlers, healthcare assistants, medical secretaries and cleaners a flight risk.

NHS workers are due their pay rise today, but the pay review process is still underway so they will have to wait until the summer to find out how the government plans to help them pay their bills.

Current treasury suggestions of a 2-3% pay rise fall well short of the minimum 6.2% increase in costs that workers face today. NHS staff also face a further squeeze on their salaries as free parking for health workers – introduced at the start of the pandemic – is being axed from today, adding extra costs when they can least afford them.

Nurses, paramedics, administrators, cleaners and pharmacy workers contributed to evidence given by UNISON and other unions to the NHS Pay Review Body this week, calling for urgent measures to prevent staff leaving the health service, making waiting lists even worse.

Increasing workloads and soaring living costs are a major worry for all health staff, and the union says this year’s wage increase must be above the rate of inflation (currently 6.2% under the consumer price index) to give NHS organisations a fighting chance to prevent their staff leaving for better paid jobs elsewhere.

UNISON South East head of health Liam Kenny said: “Staff should have been looking forward to seeing more money in their wage packets today. But government dawdling has delayed their wage rise.

“They mustn’t be left waiting in the dark like last year especially with the cost of living rising by the minute. Or many more valuable health workers will leave jobs they love for better pay elsewhere.

“The government must wake up to the fact that nothing less than an above-inflation rise will do.”

Notes to editors:   

–*The NHS pay review body (PRB) is currently considering pay recommendations for England, Northern Ireland and Wales. UNISON has submitted the findings to the PRB as part of package of evidence covering the whole NHS workforce. The PRB is expected to make its recommendation in May.

– 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.