Blog: This is how collective action works

Members taking action has forced the government to listen and take action to improve the pay of all of our hardworking NHS staff writes UNISON head of health Sara Gorton

Sara Gorton with pickets in Wakefield

Thanks to the efforts of UNISON members in our NHS, the government has finally improved its offer on NHS pay.

It was only after UNISON announced our biggest day of strike action yet, with 32,000 members poised to strike, that the government agreed to hold talks.

UNISON members have shown immense courage in taking four days of strike action in England, building momentum in every corner of the country and maintaining incredible public support throughout.  

Together with unions from across the NHS, we have spent the last two weeks in talks to secure our NHS members a pay offer that properly protects, recognises and rewards the whole workforce. The NHS is one team, and every role in it is essential in providing excellent patient care.   

After intensive talks, the government’s offer to our health members now is a significant improvement on the 72p an hour they were awarded last summer:  

  • An additional 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.  
  • An increase to Band 2, raising the lowest pay point in the NHS to £11.45 an hour – 55p higher than the real Living Wage.  

UNISON is a member-led union, so it will now be up to our NHS members colleagues to decide whether to accept this offer.   

The health service group executive, our lead NHS committee, have carefully reviewed this offer and their recommendation is to accept. We are in no doubt that if it is not accepted, the government will take this offer off the table and the pay award NHS staff receive will be much worse.  

Very soon our NHS members will be asked to vote on whether they want to accept this offer in a consultation. The strike action that was planned for Monday 20 March will not go ahead, and there will be no further strike action for the duration of the consultation.  

We would not be where we are today without the extraordinary determination of all of our members. Our collective action has forced the government to listen and take action to improve the pay of all of our hardworking NHS staff.