Recruitment pledges must be backed by decent wage rise if NHS is to thrive, says UNISON

Paying staff properly is a vital part of building the NHS for the future, says UNISON as it calls on the public to protest ​this evening (Thursday) about the government’s “pitiful” wage offer.

Plans to recruit more staff are not enough to protect the health system and will only have an effect if experienced staff are also encouraged to stay with a significant pay ​increase, the union says.

Low morale following months of exhaustion and stress cop​ing with coronavirus demands mean many experienced staff are considering their futures, UNISON says.

But with an NHS workforce exodus ​unless the government begins to better value staff, there won’t be the skilled mentors for new recruits and shortages will be just as bad, according to the union.​

Later today people across the UK are being asked to stand on their doorsteps and balconies to ​show support for NHS staff by slow handclap​ping the government over its proposal for a 1% pay rise.

The public action – backed by UNISON, health unions and the TUC – is the latest step in the campaign to achieve fair pay for health workers who have worked tirelessly to keep the country safe.

The mass event at 8pm this evening coincides with the first anniversary of the World Health Organisation declaring Covid-19 a global pandemic.

UNISON Cymru Wales lead officer for health, Paul Summers, said: 

“The UK government only wants to talk about recruiting new staff but its actions are forcing experienced staff out the door.

“Ministers boast of investing billions in the NHS, but the big money is going on ​Test and Trace, and infrastructure – not on staff. It’s the equivalent of buying a beautiful new car but refusing to pay for driving lessons.

“Many NHS workers were on the brink of leaving, but they’ve been yearning for a reason to stay in the jobs they love. The Prime Minister’s pitiful pay proposal is ​achieving the reverse and giving ​staff yet another reason to pack it in.

“The NHS will be even weaker if experienced staff leave. Recruiting new ​employees is all well and good, but they need to be coached and mentored before they can deliver the highest quality ​care.

“People across the UK should show what they think of the 1% pay proposal and give health staff their support this evening.”

Notes to editors:
– Tonight (Thursday) at 8pm, health unions are urging the public to show support for NHS staff with a slow hand clap demonstrating their displeasure at government proposals for a 1% pay rise. UNISON is calling on the government to give all NHS workers a pay rise of at least £2,000. Health workers are currently in the final year of a three-year deal. They’re due a pay rise in April.
– 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.

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