Health workers across Wales 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 (Tuesday).
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.
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. 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.
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.
UNISON Cymru Wales lead officer for health, Paul Summers, 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 UK government says a meagre 1% rise is all they’re worth.
“Wales Conservative politicians like to say NHS pay is the concern of Welsh government but there is no way Wales could afford a big boost to healthcare workers’ wages without Westminster providing substantial additional funding.
“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.”
An Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, healthcare worker, said
“The pandemic’s been absolutely heart-breaking and exhausting. I contracted the virus myself and brought it home to my family just by doing the job I love. It has been emotionally and physically the toughest year of our lives. We do not get the gratification we all so desperately need and deserve. Clapping won’t put food on the table. Clapping won’t save our mental health.”
Staff in UNISON branches based in NHS hospitals, ambulance stations and clinics across Wales will be using social media and taking part in socially distanced events from now until Wednesday.
Notes to editors:
– A three-year deal for health workers expired on 31 March. They were due a pay rise at the beginning of April but are still waiting. The government’s evidence to the NHS pay review body proposed a 1% pay increase. The Prime Minister has told MPs to wait for the pay review body report and that the government won’t decide on pay until then. This means NHS staff in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are unlikely to get a pay rise until July at the earliest.
– 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