Families and individuals across the UK are being urged by health unions to create colourful window displays in their homes and workplaces today (Thursday) to show support for NHS staff on the day they should have been getting a pay rise.
Artworks designed by children’s illustrators and writers are part of a growing collection of posters available to download from a campaign page designed by the 14 unions, who between them represent more than a million health workers across the UK.
This includes drawings from Nick Sharratt, whose books include Shark in the Park, Ketchup on Your Cornflakes? and the You Choose series; Emer Stamp, author and illustrator of the Diaries of Pig; and Nick Butterworth – who is behind the Percy the Park Keeper books.
Today is the day that NHS staff across the UK – including paramedics, domestics, radiographers, nurses, midwives, 999 call handlers and healthcare assistants – should have been due a wage rise, say unions. The three-year deal agreed back in 2018 came to an end yesterday.
But despite all the efforts made by health workers throughout the pandemic, the government says staff must wait until the NHS pay review body (PRB) makes its recommendation later in the summer.
To add insult to injury, say health unions, the government’s evidence to the PRB proposed a mere 1% pay increase. The Prime Minister has insisted it’s all that can be afforded, but last week health workers in Scotland were offered pay rises worth 4% overall.
However, a decent pay rise for NHS staff has overwhelming public support, say the unions, which include UNISON, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and the Royal College of Midwives (RCM).
A strong show of support from the public should help convince the government that the time has come for a rethink on NHS pay, say the unions.
UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said: “The public want NHS staff to get a decent pay rise. They know how tough this past year’s been for health workers who’ve gone to incredible lengths caring for patients, saving lives and keeping us safe.
“It’s now time we did something for NHS workers. By downloading and colouring in supportive posters, people can show the Prime Minister just how much NHS staff matter to them.
“Health workers are worth much more than 1%. The entire nation knows this. Let’s get creative, show the government how very wrong it is on NHS pay and encourage ministers it’s high time they thought again.”
RCN chief executive and general secretary Dame Donna Kinnair said: “Last year the public put rainbow pictures in their windows to say thank you to NHS staff for their amazing work during the pandemic.
“Now we’re urging them to put posters up again, this time to help ensure those staff are rewarded properly for their skill, dedication and professionalism.
“The government’s 1% pay proposal isn’t good enough. It needs to listen to the public support for nursing staff.”
RCM’s executive director of external relations Jon Skewes said: “We know we can count on the public to help lift the spirits of NHS staff. By displaying these bright posters of support it’s hoped the government will sit up and take note.
“The last few weeks have been really tough on staff, morale is low and their frustration is understandable. It’s time the government recognised that the true value of all NHS staff is much more than a miserable 1% pay increase.”
Children’s author and illustrator Emer Stamp said: “I’m delighted to support our wonderful NHS. Let’s get out our felt tips, pop a poster in our windows, and show the government health workers deserve better.”
Nick Sharratt’s poster calls for fair pay for NHS staff, and Emer Stamp’s features a helping hand with a rainbow running through it, with the words ‘Hands up for the NHS’.
Percy the Park Keeper is the focus of Nick Butterworth’s poster. It features a fox giving medicine to a poorly Percy with the message ‘We have to look after those who look after us!’
Notes to editors:
– The event in support of the NHS takes place tomorrow (1 April). The public are encouraged to make their posters as colourful as possible and display them where they can be clearly seen by passers-by. The posters from the children’s illustrators and authors are be available here. Alternatively, people can create their own.
– The 14 NHS unions are: British Association of Occupational Therapists, British Dietetic Association, British and Irish Orthoptic Society, Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, College of Podiatry, Federation of Clinical Scientists, GMB, Managers in Partnership, Prison Officers Association, Royal College of Midwives, Royal College of Nursing, Society of Radiographers, UNISON and Unite.