Health staff across the East of England – including nurses, paramedics, cleaners, domestics and porters – are beginning two days of campaigning today urging the government to give an early, significant pay rise of at least £2,000 to every worker in the NHS.
Staff in UNISON branches based in NHS hospitals, ambulance stations and clinics will be using social media and taking part in socially distanced events to press home the message that health workers deserve much more than applause for their efforts during the pandemic.
Health workers know the public backs an early NHS pay rise, but now want to see the government show its appreciation for staff by bringing forward the pay rise due in April.
UNISON’s pay claim – delivered to Downing Street last month – would see every NHS employee receive an increase of at least £2,000 by the end of the year.
This early wage increase – equivalent to around £1 an hour extra for all staff – could give ailing local economies a much-needed boost as workers spend the extra money in their pockets on the high street, says UNISON.
With the arrival of autumn, and the increasing rates of infection, UNISON believes now is the perfect time for the government to show the high regard in which ministers say they hold NHS staff.
UNISON Eastern regional secretary Tim Roberts said: “Infection rates are rising in care homes and out in the wider community, and hospital admissions are on the up.
“The pressure on staff is beginning to build again, as the NHS tries to open services shut earlier in the year and deal with the backlog of cancelled appointments and operations.
“That’s why now would be the perfect time for the Prime Minister and Chancellor to show they can do more than clap for NHS staff, and demonstrate their appreciation in a much more practical way.
“Boris Johnson’s pie in the sky plans for any time, any place, anywhere ‘moonshot’ testing would cost a mind-boggling £100bn. An early pay rise for NHS staff would be a tiny fraction of that and would make a huge difference to individuals and the services they help provide.
“Investing in the NHS and its incredible staff is a must for the government. It would help the health service tackle the mounting staff shortages that were already causing huge problems even before the virus hit.
“An early pay rise would also be the country’s best way of saying a heartfelt thank you to every single member of the NHS team.”
A number of events are taking place across the Eastern region including one involving ambulance workers in Bury St Edmunds, a lunchtime activity involving staff at the Basildon and Thurrock Hospital, and another at Southend Hospital.