Government must focus on sorting NHS pay now, says UNISON

Staff can’t wait until next year for a wage boost

Commenting on the news today (Wednesday) that the government has begun the NHS pay review body process for 2023-24, UNISON head of health Sara Gorton said:

“Ministers should be concerned with putting NHS pay right now, not trying to distract unions with the long, drawn-out evidence-gathering process of the pay review body.

“Staff are exiting in droves and without urgent movement on pay, many more will follow suit.

“NHS services are in a dire state, with too few staff to deliver safe patient care. That’s why hundreds of thousands of NHS employees have either voted to strike over pay and staffing, or are currently doing so.

“Rather than pretending the NHS isn’t on the verge of a damaging dispute, the government’s focus should be on how to keep experienced staff in their jobs. They can do this with a wage rise that better reflects the harsh economic reality for working people.”

Notes to editors:
– In July, the government in Westminster announced that most NHS staff on Agenda for Change contracts (NHS terms and conditions) in England would get a pay rise of £1,400, in line with the recommendation of the NHS pay review body. This amounted to a 4.75% increase to the NHS pay bill. Health workers had been due a wage rise on 1 April 2022. Health workers in Wales got the same award. The health minister in Northern Ireland said he wanted to implement the same award but couldn’t because of the political stalemate, so NHS workers there have had no pay rise at all. 
–  UNISON’s ballot of health staff working for more than 250 NHS employers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland launched on 25 October. That vote closes in Northern Ireland on Friday (18 November), and next Friday (25 November) in England and Wales. UNISON members in Scotland have voted to reject the latest pay offer from the Scottish government.
– UNISON and most other health unions had called for an above-inflation pay rise in their submission to the NHS pay review body. Other unions either with a live strike mandate or balloting or for industrial action in the NHS include the Royal College of Nursing, Royal College of Midwives, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, GMB and Unite.
– To achieve a legal strike ballot, UK law requires unions to jump a variety of hurdles. In addition to requiring 50% of the workers being balloted to participate in any vote, the law demands that in very important public services, like many parts of the NHS, 40% of those sent ballot papers must vote yes. Unions are also unable to conduct strike ballots electronically. All ballot papers must be sent out in the mail and returned by post.
– 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:
Liz Chinchen M: 07778 158175 E: