UNISON health workers vote to accept NHS pay offer

Almost three-quarters voted to accept with over 150,000 having their say

NHS workers who belong to UNISON have voted decisively to accept the pay offer from the government, says the union today (Friday).

The consultation of 288,000 NHS workers across England closed at 3pm this afternoon. Almost three quarters (74%) voted to accept the offer, and 26% to reject.

Turnout in the consultation exercise was 53%, with 152,329 votes cast. Of these 112,458 voted yes, and 39,871 no.

NHS staff across England have been taking part in the online consultation exercise since the end of March.

UNISON had recommended acceptance of the offer, which came out of the pay talks involving unions, employers and ministers earlier that month.

The offer covers two pay years – an additional one-off amount for 2022/23 and a 5% wage rise (10.4% for the lowest paid) for 2023/24.

UNISON head of health Sara Gorton said: “Clearly health workers would have wanted more, but this was the best that could be achieved through negotiation.

“Over the past few weeks, health workers have weighed up what’s on offer. They’ve opted for the certainty of getting the extra cash in their pockets soon.

“It’s a pity it took several months of strike action before the government would commit to talks. Unions told ministers last summer the £1,400 pay rise wasn’t enough to stop staff leaving the NHS, nor to prevent strikes. But they didn’t want to listen.

“Instead, health workers were forced to strike, losing money they could ill afford. The NHS and its patients suffered months of unnecessary disruption.

“Other unions are still consulting so the full picture won’t emerge until the end of the month. UNISON will be urging the government to ensure NHS workers get the wage rises they’ve voted for at the earliest opportunity.

“This vote might end UNISON’s dispute, but it doesn’t solve the wider staffing emergency affecting every part of the NHS. Now, the government must work with unions to bring about a sustained programme of investment in the workforce.

“Lessons must also be learned. The mistakes of the past few months cannot be repeated. It’s time for a whole new approach to setting pay across the NHS.”

Notes to editors:
–The non-consolidated payment for 2022/23 is worth between £1,655 and £3,789 to health workers in England. This is equal to 8.2% for the lowest paid and around 6% for nurses, midwives and other colleagues on band 5 of Agenda for Change. It’s in addition to the £1,400 NHS staff received for 2022/23 last September. The 2023/24 wage rise is worth at least £1,065 and would raise the lowest hourly rate in the NHS in England to £11.45 an hour, or £22,383 a year.
–Other unions that took part in the pay talks are still in the process of consulting their members. All the results will be in by the end of the month. The NHS staff council is due to meet on 2 May and report back to the government.
–In Scotland, UNISON members have voted to accept the Holyrood government’s latest pay offer. Talks in Wales are ongoing, with announcements expected soon. NHS staff in Northern Ireland have only just received the £1,400 paid to their English colleagues last September. The hope is that developments in England will prove enough to unlock the ongoing dispute in Northern Ireland.

Media contacts:
Liz Chinchen M: 07778 158175 E: press@unison.co.uk
Anthony Barnes M: 07834 864794 E: a.barnes@unison.co.uk