Health workers in Wales urge local MPs to back early pay rise for exhausted staff and to protect the NHS  

Hundreds of health staff across Wales – including nurses, paramedics, cleaners, domestics and porters – are writing to the region’s 22 MPs asking them to back UNISON’s call for NHS staff to get an early pay rise in time for Christmas.

Staff employed in hospitals, clinics and ambulance stations across Wales are urging local politicians to put their case to the government for a significant pay rise of at least £2,000 for every worker across the NHS.

NHS pay in Wales is a devolved issue but Welsh Government could only afford to provide a decent wage rise if it receives additional funding from Westminster. A substantial NHS England pay rise would provide that equivalent money in the devolved budget to Wales.

The NHS pay rise is due next April, but health workers, already worn out from the early stages of the pandemic, say bringing the increase forward would help staff feel more valued as the second wave surges.

Bringing the planned wage rise forward a few months would also place the NHS in a better position to face the future, say Wales health workers.

The pandemic has affected staff profoundly and many may choose to leave the NHS, such are the levels of exhaustion says UNISON. Raising pay this year could persuade staff to change their minds and make the NHS more attractive to thousands of much-needed recruits, adds the union.

UNISON Cymru Wales regional secretary Karen Loughlin said: “Health workers are exhausted from the first virus peak. They’re now dealing with the second wave and a backlog of cancelled treatments.

“Now is the time for a significant pay rise. Workers doing the job would then feel valued, and an increase could attract much-needed new recruits.

“Wales Conservative politicians are fond of saying NHS pay is the concern of Welsh Government. They pretend Wales could afford a big boost to healthcare workers’ wages without Westminster providing substantial additional funding. UNISON healthcare workers won’t let them off the hook.

“From the unequal treatment on furlough to the size of the devolved budget, people in Wales get a shabby deal from this Tory Government who have shown they don’t value our dedicated health workers”

Notes to editors: 

– Earlier in the year, a UNISON/Savanta ComRes poll showed that a majority of the public (69%) think all NHS staff should get an early pay rise. Two thirds (66%) of the public believe a wage increase for employees should be significant in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. An overwhelming majority (85%) believe pay should increase.
– Agenda for Change staff in the NHS are currently covered by a three-year pay and reform deal, due to end on 31 March 2021.
– The UNISON claim is for an increase of at least £2,000 to every point on the NHS salary scale. This would take minimum earnings up from around £18,000 to £20,005 and take the lowest rate in the NHS above the real living wage. The £2,000 would be worth 8% for a newly qualified band 5 worker (for example, a nurse, paramedic or IT manager) and would take their annual salary to £26,907
– UNISON is the UK’s largest union, with more than 1.3 million members providing public services – in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in the public, voluntary and private sectors.

Media contacts:

Alastair Gittins, UNISON Cymru Wales press officer on 07816 53 83 97