‘We were there every minute to support your loved ones’ – NHS workers speak out on pay

NHS workers have been lauded as heroes during the pandemic, with government ministers proudly standing on their doorsteps to clap our keyworkers.

But when UNISON and our sister health unions asked them to turn claps into cash and give NHS staff a long overdue pay rise, there was rather less support.

We’re fighting to change the government’s mind. We asked NHS workers to explain in their own words what a pay rise would mean for them.

NHS worker? Have your say

We’ve been overwhelmed by the response. Here’s what just a few of them had to say.

Bill, physiotherapy assistant in Bedfordshire (pictured above)

During the pandemic I have seen the struggle in the eyes of my colleagues, the physical and mental exhaustion after a long shift, people reaching their limits, being emotionally overwhelmed and not being able to hold their tears any more. I have also seen many patients who left their last breath on the ward after a long-running battle against Covid.

I will never forget the moment i saw a CSW sitting by the side of an end of life patient, talking to him. The patient was not alert, but the lovely CSW was by his side talking to him as his journey on Earth was coming to an end.

This is what it means to be an NHS staff member and this is what we did during the pandemic. We were there every minute to support your loved ones.

A pay rise would make me feel appreciated and it would mean I could be a bit more comfortable with my expenses. Working and studying is not easy.

Keri, senior team admin in Norfolk

When I first started I was a Band 3 and was well paid for the office work I did, I was able to afford to take myself and my son on holidays (single parent for 17 years).

I am now a Band 4, have more responsibility, manage an admin team of 8, supporting a wider team of 60 clinicians in adult mental health. Due to the pay freeze and the rate of inflation, despite being a manager and having more responsibility than when I started I am now on £12.40 an hour, about £1.40 more per hour than an Aldi shop working stacking shelves or scanning items at a checkout.

Myself and my son have had no holiday since 2011.

Where is the incentive to stay, to care, to continue to give 110%?

Victor, nurse in Cambridgeshire

You don’t want to be in a position at work where instead of focusing on your patient care, you are worried about the end of month bills.

We are resilient, we are stronger but everything in life has a limit.

Teresa, assistant practitioner in Norfolk

A decent pay rise would mean that all the Thursday night clapping really was for a reason and not just a way of making us NHS staff work harder with no actual recognition for all the sacrifices we have made!

Have your say on pay