South West NHS workers appeal for public support on pay, says UNISON

Health workers across the South West are appealing to the public this week to back their campaign so NHS staff can receive a proper pay rise before the summer, says UNISON today (Monday).

Over the next few days, hospital porters, clerical workers, cleaners, nurses, healthcare assistants and other NHS staff will be urging people to contact their local MPs to keep up the pay pressure on the government.

Health workers in Scotland will soon receive a wage rise – of at least 4% – backdated to December after the government there found extra resources to fund the increase.

NHS staff in the rest of the UK are not so fortunate, says UNISON. The Prime Minister insists everyone else must wait until the NHS pay review body reports, which won’t be until at least July.

Health workers were due a pay rise at the beginning of last month – almost seven weeks ago, says UNISON.

The union’s been making the case for a minimum wage boost of at least £2,000 for staff. The government’s suggested an increase of just 1%.

By now, NHS staff would be £250 better off if UNISON’s 2k pay claim had been implemented on 1 April.

Instead, staff feel increasingly taken for granted, worn out by the pandemic and overwhelmed at tackling the Covid backlog of cancelled appointments and operations. As a result, many may soon leave the NHS altogether, fears UNISON.

Although there’s now significantly fewer Covid patients in hospital than at the January peak, the pressure is still very much on staff, says UNISON.

Figures published last week show waiting lists are the longest ever. Across the South West, more than 155,378 people are now having to wait more than 18 weeks for treatment. Over 37,000 have been waiting over a year.

UNISON South West head of health Mike Cracknell said: “NHS staff have given their all during the pandemic. They’ll continue to do so to clear the backlog caused by Covid. But despite their incredible efforts, the government says a meagre 1% rise is all they’re worth.

“The length of waiting lists across the South West shows the huge challenges still facing the NHS. A decent wage increase paid soon could stop staff feeling unloved and taken for granted, and perhaps be enough to persuade many thinking of walking to stay.”

Staff in UNISON branches based in NHS hospitals, ambulance stations and clinics across the South West will be using social media and taking part in socially distanced events from now until Wednesday.