Waiting times won’t fall unless the government deals with NHS pay, says UNISON

Ministers must tackle workforce crisis through wage boost

Responding to Rishi Sunak’s speech today (Wednesday) in which he pledged to reduce NHS waiting lists, UNISON deputy head of health Helga Pile said:

“Society needs a well-funded, well-staffed NHS so care and treatment is available the moment people need it.

“If the Prime Minister is serious about change and doing things differently, he should apply this to his government’s approach to the healthcare crisis. That means giving his ministers the green light to start talking to unions about improving pay.

“The government must raise wages sufficiently across the health service right away. Otherwise experienced staff will carry on quitting in frightening numbers, waiting lists won’t ever be cut, delays will worsen and the NHS will be unable to provide safe patient care.”

Notes to editors: 
– Staff at five ambulance services in England – London, Yorkshire, the North West, North East and South West – are to strike on 11 and 23 January over NHS pay. UNISON staged a 12-hour strike at the same five services a fortnight ago (on 21 December 2022).
– Health workers belonging to UNISON in Northern Ireland took a day of strike action over pay on Monday 12 December, with more dates to be announced.
– In July 2022, the government in Westminster announced 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 NHS pay review body’s recommendation. This amounted to a 4.75% increase to the NHS pay bill. Health workers had been due a wage rise on 1 April. Health workers in Wales got the same award. NHS staff in Northern Ireland have so far had no pay rise at all. In Scotland, UNISON members voted by a small majority to accept an improved offer from the Holyrood government. 

 UNISON and most other health unions had called for an above-inflation pay rise in their submission to this year’s NHS pay review body.
– 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 contacts: 
Anthony Barnes M: 07834 864794 E: a.barnes@unison.co.uk
Fatima Ayad M: 07508 080383 E: f.ayad@unison.co.uk