An early wage rise for health workers in Wales would improve morale, says UNISON

A £2,000 pay rise for all NHS workers across Wales would boost morale amid unrelenting pandemic pressures, says UNISON today (Wednesday).

The union is calling ​on the government ​to deliver an early and significant wage increase ​– of at least £2,000 ​– to show staff are valued as they face unprecedented hospital admissions.

​A recent UNISON survey shows more than nine out of ten NHS staff (91%) across the UK say a wage lift of that level would boost their morale, while even more (95%) said it would make a “meaningful difference” to their lives.

Four out of five (83%) would feel more confident they can afford to stay in their current job​, says UNISON.

This early wage increase – equivalent to around £1 an hour extra for all staff – would benefit struggling local economies as workers spend the extra money in their pockets on the high street ​when the lockdown begins to ease, says UNISON.

More than three quarters of staff (78%) say they would use the cash in local shops and hospitality businesses, the survey found.

Staff in UNISON branches based in NHS hospitals, ambulance stations and clinics across Wales will be using social media to raise awareness of the union’s latest two days for 2k campaign.

They will be pressing home the message health workers deserve more than applause for their efforts ​starting today and running until Friday.

In addition, NHS staff and members of the public are being asked to sign an open letter to the chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak calling on him to fund the pay rise in the ​Budget.

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

“The pressure on staff is immense and is not likely to ease any time soon. They’re exhausted and need reassurance their work is valued.

“The government should pay more than lip service to their efforts and demonstrate appreciation in a practical way by delivering a pay rise.

“Investing in staff will prevent an exodus of disillusioned workers and help with recruitment to build the NHS for the future.”

Notes to editors:

– The UNISON survey ran for a month from Friday 11 December – 10,500 NHS staff took part.

– The UNISON claim is for an increase of at least £2,000 to every point on the NHS salary scale. Health workers across the UK are nearing the end of a three-year pay deal. They should be due a pay rise in April, but UNISON and other health unions want this brought forward to show appreciation for NHS employees.  

– The NHS pay review body is not due to report until May, and devolved governments can’t act sooner as they are reliant on funding decisions based on this process. This means that NHS staff are not likely to get a pay rise until June at the earliest, says UNISON.  

Cymru Wales NHS voices on what £2k would mean for them

 Phillipa, domestic

“Very rarely do I take my eye off my electric meter. My pay didn’t stretch before Covid. I’m working every overtime God sends just to see me through. When the extra hours stop, when Covid goes, I don’t know how I’ll cope. Until you’re so desperate and you are ignoring the bills, you will never get what a difference £2,000 can make.”


Lucy, pharmacy technician

“£2,000 would be a boost financially and to my morale. Whilst it was great having the applause, it hasn’t been great time for NHS staff, wherever they are based, and a £2,000 pay rise would show that we are all appreciated.

“It would also enable us to have the occasional treat, as we have not had a decent pay rise for a while.

“I know I would have a larger salary in the private sector. I love working for the NHS, and have done for many years, but I currently feel that we are not valued any more. A pay increase would make it more likely I would remain in the NHS.”


Michelle, domestic 

“My family work for the NHS and always have. We’ve always been proud workers.  However, we are struggling with costs having the kids at home. They’re hungry, always raiding the fridge and we’re using a lot more electricity. My heating costs are through the roof. I’m trying to keep costs down by wrapping up the kids in hoodies and jumpers.

“£2,000 won’t go far but it would make me feel a million dollars because health workers want our pride back and we are worth it.”


Lianne, housekeeper 

“A £2,000 pay award would give me and my family a couple more days breathing space before payday, before we start struggling again.”


Claire, medical secretary

“We all deserve a £2,000 pay increase for what we’ve done during the pandemic. We can’t work safely from home! It’s about recognition of what we’ve done. We need more than clapping.”


– 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 8397