Illustrators get creative to back NHS pay poster campaign by health unions  

Nick Butterworth and Emer Stamp join national effort urging people to highlight NHS pay with window artwork

Posters designed by children’s illustrators and writers are part of a growing collection of artwork that households across the UK are being urged to display this week to show support for a proper pay rise for NHS staff, say health unions today (Wednesday).

The drawings from Nick Butterworth – who is behind the Percy the Park Keeper books – and Emer Stamp, author and illustrator of the Diaries of Pig, are part of a national effort to encourage the public to put colourful posters in their windows in support of health service staff.

Fourteen unions – including UNISON, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) – are urging families and individuals to show their appreciation for NHS workers with bright, hand-crafted displays this Thursday (1 April).

The unions say this will show the public strength of feeling on the day NHS staff should have received a wage increase and be a welcome ‘thank you’ for all their tireless efforts over the past year to keep everyone safe.

Delays mean health workers – including cleaners, porters, physiotherapists, 999 call handlers, nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants – must now wait until later in the year for the wage rise they’re due. To make matters worse, say unions, the UK government has proposed a rise of just 1%.

Nick Butterworth’s poster features a fox giving medicine to Percy, who is a patient in bed, with the message ‘We have to look after those who look after us!’ He said: “The people of the NHS have been going like the clappers to keep ‘the clappers’ going. It’s only fair that we should recognise the immense debt we owe them as individuals and a country.”

UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said: “Let’s show the Prime Minister just how much the public values health staff. By getting creative for the NHS with our crayons, felt tips and pencils, we can all get colouring to send a powerful message to Westminster.

“Bright, colourful displays in the windows of houses, flats, apartments and bungalows across the land should help the government to see just how out of step it is with the public mood.

“Calling for a decent pay rise for NHS staff, who have given so much this past year, must surely persuade ministers to think again. An offer of 1% is far short of what health workers deserve.”

RCN chief executive and general secretary Dame Donna Kinnair said: “The public support for nursing staff throughout the pandemic has been incredible. Displaying posters in their windows again this year is just another way they can show that support.

“Nursing staff must be rewarded properly for their skill, dedication and professionalism.”

RCM’s executive director of external relations Jon Skewes said: “NHS staff have worked tirelessly over the past year on the frontline fighting a global pandemic. They’ve made unbelievable sacrifices and put themselves at risk.

“Their professionalism and dedication was there before the pandemic and it will be afterwards. But the 1% pay rise proposed by the government is unacceptable and has had an impact on morale at the worst possible time.

“The public support for NHS workers is astounding. Now it’s time for the government to level up and show they truly value NHS workers with a significant pay rise.”

Notes to editors:
– The event in support of the NHS takes place on Thursday 1 April. The public are encouraged to make their posters as colourful as possible and display them where they can be clearly seen by passers-by. The posters from the children’s illustrators and authors will be available here. Alternatively, people can create their own posters.
– Health workers are currently in the final year of a three-year deal. They’re due a pay rise on Thursday (1 April). The government’s evidence to the NHS pay review body has proposed a 1% pay increase. The pay review body is due to make its recommendation later in the year. The Prime Minister has told MPs to wait for the pay review body report and that the government won’t make a decision on pay until then. Last week health workers in Scotland were offered pay rises worth 4% overall.
– The 14 NHS unions are: British Association of Occupational Therapists, British Dietetic Association, British and Irish Orthoptic Society, Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, College of Podiatry, Federation of Clinical Scientists, GMB, Managers in Partnership, Prison Officers Association, Royal College of Midwives, Royal College of Nursing, Society of Radiographers, UNISON and Unite.

Media contacts:
UNISON M: 07778 158175 E:
RCN T: 0207 647 3633 E:
RCM T: 0207 312 3456 E: