Give all NHS staff a wage rise immediately of at least £2k, says UNISON

Staff deserve immediate wage lift from government


A pay claim submitted by UNISON to the government today (Friday) would see every NHS employee receive an increase of at least £2,000 by the end of this year.

UNISON – which is the UK’s biggest union and represents NHS staff including healthcare assistants, radiographers, porters, midwives and paramedics – says this rise is the equivalent of around £1 an hour for all staff.

If the claim is accepted, minimum wages in the health service would go above £20,000 a year for the first time (more than £20,400 annually in Scotland), according to the union.

This morning (Friday) UNISON members – including nursing, engineering and ambulance staff – are delivering a letter to the Prime Minister urging him to put NHS pay top of his to-do list when parliament reconvenes next week, and bring forward plans for a meaningful and early rise.

The letter references Boris Johnson’s own battle with Covid-19 – and his recovery thanks to the care he received from the NHS.

It says: “Health staff have heard how much your recent personal experiences taught you about the value of what they do.

“They are now looking for you to reflect that in their pay. So, Prime Minister, why wait?”

UNISON says its pay demand – which is on behalf of staff currently on Agenda for Change contracts – is fair, reasonable and the least the government can do to show it values everyone working in the health service.

It follows calls last month from all 14 NHS trade unions for an early and significant pay increase and the publication of survey data* showing strong backing from the public.

A survey of NHS staff who belong to UNISON found four fifths (84%) said the £2,000 pay lift would make a ‘substantial difference’ to them.

UNISON head of health Sara Gorton said: “Government ministers claim NHS staff are a ‘top priority’. The Prime Minister must not miss the opportunity to show they really mean it.

“Health service employees have made their expectations clear – that their pay will reflect the work they’ve done during the pandemic. This is also the overwhelming message from the public.

“The claim is straightforward, can be brought in quickly and would ensure everyone in the NHS is recognised.

“There’s a tough winter ahead and a pandemic that shows little sign of disappearing. Giving health staff a morale boost now is much-needed ahead of any good news about a vaccine.”

Notes for editors:
– Click here for a copy of the letter.
– Uniformed health staff and leading UNISON officials will be at College Green, 2 Great College St, Westminster, London SW1P 3SE at 11am for a photocall.
– Agenda for Change (AfC) staff in the NHS are currently covered by a three-year pay and reform deal, due to end on 31 March 2021.
– All 14 of the NHS unions representing AfC employees wrote to the Prime Minister on 3 July to request an early and significant pay rise for these staff. They’re requesting that the next pay rise kicks in ahead of 31 March and before the end of 2020.
– 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 in the NHS up from around £18,000 to £20,005 (£20,478 in Scotland) and restore NHS compliance with the real living wage across the UK. The £2,000 would be worth 8% for a newly qualified band 5 worker eg a nurse, paramedic or IT manager and would take their annual salary to £26,907 (£27,100 in Scotland).
– *A Savanta ComRes opinion poll commissioned by UNISON in July showed overwhelming public support for an early and significant pay rise for NHS staff.  The survey was based on nearly 35,000 responses with 82% saying they were prepared to actively campaign for it.
– 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.

Case studies (pictures and further details available on request): 
-Ward assistant Colette McAlinden worked long hours during the pandemic. She also ended up delivering a baby in her lunch hour in the hospital car park.
The 56-year-old from Northern Ireland said: “The workload increased. It was hectic, working on wards in extreme heat. Sometimes my lips cracked with thirst. But we had to put that all aside because the patients and their family are the priority.”
-Housekeeper Judy Martin has a health condition that causes symptoms including shortness of breath. That makes wearing a mask for 10 hours at a stretch gruelling – but she’s dedicated to her job cleaning the labour ward for Covid-positive mums-to-be.
The 64-year-old from the East Midlands said: “The masks are very painful to wear but keeping everything clean is vital in keeping everyone safe.”

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