NHS workers in Wales have asked the chancellor to recognise the work they’ve done to protect lives and fund a decent pay rise in Wednesday’s Budget, says UNISON today (Tuesday).
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.
More than 60,000 health care assistants, porters, operating theatre staff, nurses, caterers, ambulance staff, cleaners and members of the public across the UK have signed a letter to Rishi Sunak asking him to properly reward NHS staff for their work before and during the pandemic.
Staff want the chancellor to back a pay rise of at least £2,000 for all NHS workers, many of whom have put their health, wellbeing and personal lives on the line since Covid-19 struck.
In the letter, workers challenge the chancellor to step up and do his bit, as they have. They argue a pay rise would show staff they’re valued, provide a much-needed morale boost for burnt-out workers and tip the balance for the thousands on the brink of leaving the NHS, the union adds.
A video accompanying the letter shows staff describing the intense pressure they’ve been under.
A healthcare worker at Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board, said,
“I am used to the high pressures of the job. Since the pandemic, I have experienced extreme pressure. I have worked 12-hour shifts wrapped in plastic, with masks and visors on and not been able to go on break because my patients have been so unwell and I’ve had no one to cover me.
“I’ve had to go to my GP for help with anxiety. Healthcare workers are burnt-out and its heart-breaking to see my colleagues this way. All the while it comes to the end of the month and the pay never reflects the sacrifice you feel you’ve given to your job.” (Read more testimonies from healthcare workers in Wales in the notes to editors)
UNISON Cymru lead officer for health Paul Summers said: “Health workers have been battling the pandemic for a year. That’s a year of incredibly long-hours, heightened anxiety around the safety of family and friends, and fears about catching the virus.
“All while carrying out demanding roles and dealing with the trauma of many thousands of deaths. They’re giving their all to keep us safe.
“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. On Wednesday the chancellor can and should give something back to them on behalf of the nation.
“Rishi Sunak must do the right thing and back up words of praise with concrete actions by funding a pay rise of at least £2,000 for all NHS staff.”
Notes to editors:
Read what more Wales healthcare workers have told the chancellor: –
Betsi Cadwaladr healthcare worker
“I’ve found the last twelve months extremely hard and I’ve really struggled. I’m dedicated to the NHS. We have lost colleagues to Covid, it is terrifying and will take some time to recover from our personal experiences. God help us and I hope the Government invests more in our NHS.”
Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board, healthcare worker
“The last year’s been absolutely horrendous. Staff have been working much longer hours, and we’ve been very short staffed too. Many colleagues have had Covid and many have been unable to come into work because of stress. We have had to console many attending patients, who are ill, distressed and frightened even attending their appointments. We are frightened too! I desperately need a living wage, so please do the right thing for everyone in our team! That’s a pay rise for all of us!”
Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, healthcare worker
“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. A clap won’t put food on the table. A clap won’t save our mental health.”
– 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