UNISON health workers vote to accept NHS pay offer

UNISON members stand around a brazier on the picket line

NHS workers who belong to UNISON have voted decisively to accept the pay offer from the government, says the union today.

The consultation of 288,000 NHS workers across England closed at 3pm this afternoon. Almost three quarters (74%) voted to accept the offer, and 26% to reject.

Turnout in the consultation exercise was 53%, with 152,329 votes cast. Of these 112,458 voted yes, and 39,871 no.

NHS staff across England have been taking part in the online consultation exercise since the end of March.

UNISON had recommended acceptance of the offer, which came out of the pay talks involving unions, employers and ministers earlier that month.

The offer covers two pay years – an additional one-off amount for 2022/23 and a 5% wage rise (10.4% for the lowest paid) for 2023/24.

UNISON head of health Sara Gorton said: “Clearly health workers would have wanted more, but this was the best that could be achieved through negotiation.

“Over the past few weeks, health workers have weighed up what’s on offer. They’ve opted for the certainty of getting the extra cash in their pockets soon.

“It’s a pity it took several months of strike action before the government would commit to talks. Unions told ministers last summer the £1,400 pay rise wasn’t enough to stop staff leaving the NHS, nor to prevent strikes. But they didn’t want to listen.

“Instead, health workers were forced to strike, losing money they could ill afford. The NHS and its patients suffered months of unnecessary disruption.

“Other unions are still consulting so the full picture won’t emerge until the end of the month. UNISON will be urging the government to ensure NHS workers get the wage rises they’ve voted for at the earliest opportunity.

“This vote might end UNISON’s dispute, but it doesn’t solve the wider staffing emergency affecting every part of the NHS. Now, the government must work with unions to bring about a sustained programme of investment in the workforce.

“Lessons must also be learned. The mistakes of the past few months cannot be repeated. It’s time for a whole new approach to setting pay across the NHS.”