Blog: Why it’s time to say YES to NHS pay

It’s important that as many health members as possible vote to have their say

Christina McAnea

After months of tireless campaigning, lobbying of politicians, and thousands of UNISON health members losing pay through strike action, the close-fisted Westminster government has finally opened its purse strings.

Our officials went into the pay talks and spoke on behalf of thousands of health workers, who had either already taken part in strikes, or who were prepared to join the picket line to escalate the action.

Ambulance workers across several trusts in England, hospital workers in Liverpool and members at NICE went on strike and accepted the tough role of fronting the first waves of our high-profile industrial action.

As I visited picket lines from Waterloo to Windy Nook, Soundwell to Sheffield, I was inspired by the strength and determination I saw in our members. Everyone at UNISON is so proud of every single one of them, and of all those ready to take more action in future, should we need.

UNISON’s experienced negotiators have worked hard to get ministers to come up with an offer that boosts pay for this year, as well as increases in pay for next year by an amount more than the government had budgeted for.

It’s by no means perfect, but our negotiators have done their best to get us to a point where we have an offer for members to take a decision on.

UNISON’s health committee are recommending that members accept the offer during our consultation, which will run from Tuesday 28 March until Friday 14 April. So if you’re one of the thousands of UNISON health members, it’s important that you vote with the understanding of what this offer means for you.

In addition to the £1,400 a year pay rise NHS staff got last autumn, the offer is:

  • An extra one-off lump sum for 2022/23 which rises in value up the NHS pay bands. To provide a range, this is worth £1,655 for staff on Band 2 (over 8%), £2,009 for staff at the top of Band 5 and £3,789 for staff at the top of Band 9;
  • A permanent 5% pay rise on all pay points for 2023/24, worth at least £1,065;
  • A permanent 10.4% increase to Band 1 and the entry point of Band 2, raising the lowest pay point in the NHS to £11.45 an hour – 55p higher than the real Living Wage. 

While you take the time to consider the offer and have your say, the union’s industrial action will remain paused. Our members are at the heart of everything we do, so it’s important that as many health members as possible vote to have their say.

The campaign effort now is to get the vote out for YES.