NHS staff ​urge the chancellor to do the right thing and fund a pay rise

Rishi Sunak should give something back on behalf of the nation

Chancellor Rishi Sunak with the red Budget box

Tens of thousands of NHS workers have asked the chancellor to recognise the work they’ve done to protect lives and fund a decent pay rise in next week’s Budget, says UNISON today (Friday).

More than 60,000 health care assistants, porters, operating theatre staff, nurses, caterers, ambulance staff, cleaners and members of the public have signed an open letter to Rishi Sunak asking him to properly reward NHS staff for their work before and during the pandemic.

Staff want the chancellor to back a pay rise of at least £2,000 for all NHS workers, many of whom have put their health, wellbeing and personal lives on the line since Covid-19 struck.

In the letter, workers challenge the chancellor to step up and do his bit, as they have. They argue a pay rise would show staff they’re valued, provide a much-needed morale boost for burnt-out workers and tip the balance for the thousands on the brink of leaving the NHS, the union adds.

A video accompanying the letter shows staff describing the intense pressure they’ve been under. A newly qualified paramedic describes how frightening and overwhelming frontline work has been for her and her colleagues.

She tells the chancellor that NHS staff need recognition for all they’ve been through, the daily horrors they’ve seen and the risks they’ve faced.

Another describes how she and her team have been working 60-hour weeks to cover staff shortages. She tells the chancellor that NHS staff are playing their part and a pay rise would show appreciation for their work.

UNISON head of health Sara Gorton said: “Health workers have been battling the pandemic for a year. That’s a year of incredibly long hours, heightened anxiety around the safety of family and friends, and fears about catching the virus.

“All while carrying out demanding roles and dealing with the trauma of many thousands of deaths.

“They’re giving everything to keep us safe. On Wednesday the chancellor can and should give something back to them on behalf of the nation.

“Rishi Sunak must do the right thing and back up words of praise with concrete actions by funding a pay rise of at least £2,000 for all NHS staff.”

Notes to editors:
– The letter to Rishi Sunak can be read here and the film viewed here.
– 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 contact:
Anthony Barnes M: 07834 864794 E: a.barnes@unison.co.uk