Wiltshire healthcare workers to strike on Valentine’s Day in row over NHS pay deal

No love lost as healthcare workers plan Valentine’s Day action

Health workers at six Wiltshire hospitals will take strike action later this month in a row over a pay rise worth £1,655, says UNISON today (Friday).

Staff employed by Wiltshire Health and Care will walk out on Wednesday 14 February at Chippenham, Devizes, Melksham, Savernake, Trowbridge and Warminster community hospitals after an overwhelming majority (95%) backed strike action.

The union says the health workers, including nurses, occupational therapists, care co-ordinators, and physios, should be treated fairly and receive the same as their colleagues employed directly by the NHS.

In June, a deal was agreed for workers on NHS contracts (Agenda for Change pay scales), which included a 5% wage rise for the current financial year and a one-off payment of £1,655 for the lowest paid for 2022/23.

However, Wiltshire Health and Care refuses to honour the one-off bonus element, which UNISON says means its staff are earning far less than NHS employees doing exactly the same work.

UNISON South West regional organiser Jayne Jackson said: “Wiltshire Health and Care staff wear an NHS uniform and are key to keeping services in the county running.

“They deserve proper recognition for their hard work and that means being paid fairly. Failure to deliver the bonus has left staff feeling unloved and with no alternative but to strike.

“The lump sum would make a huge difference. It would also make financial sense for Wiltshire Health and Care as the extra cash could be just the thing to persuade disillusioned workers not to quit the firm for good.”

Thomas Simblet, an assistant practitioner at Warminster Community Hospital, said: “Wiltshire Health and Care should do the right thing and pay up.

“Staff feel devalued and don’t understand why they’ve been excluded when other NHS organisations have made the payment.

“The company’s failure to honour the one-off bonus is particularly tough to take in when everybody’s facing the same huge cost-of-living pressures.”