The government should build on the huge public support shown for the NHS during the pandemic by giving health workers across the UK an early pay rise, say health unions today (Friday).
The 14 unions – representing more than 1.3 million nurses, cleaners, physiotherapists, healthcare assistants, dietitians, radiographers, porters, midwives, paramedics and other NHS employees – have written both to the Chancellor and the Prime Minister calling for pay talks to start soon so staff get a wage boost before the end of the year.
In the letters, the unions – including the British Dietetic Association, UNISON, the Royal College of Nursing, the Royal College of Midwives, GMB, Unite and the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy – say the pandemic has made the dedication and commitment of NHS staff plain for all to see.
But now the public wants the government to turn its appreciation of health staff into something more substantial, say the letters. The unions’ call comes as the UK prepares to remember everyone who’s died from coronavirus and give thanks for the NHS on its 72nd birthday this weekend.
Health workers are nearing the end of a three-year pay deal. Unions are urging the government to provide the funding for a fair and early pay rise for all NHS staff – including the many domestics, catering workers, security guards and other support staff working for private contractors.
A fair wage increase would help staff feel valued after the huge pressures and challenges faced in recent months. There would also be a boost to the economy as health workers spend the extra money in their pockets on local high streets, say unions.
Improvements to staff pay would enable the NHS to hold onto experienced workers – including many who’ve returned to its service during the pandemic. An early rise would also help with the recruitment of new staff needed to fill the many vacancies across every ward, team, department and clinic, say the letters.
Ministers must not see the appeal for NHS workers to get an early pay rise as a Covid bonus, say unions. The three-year deal agreed in 2018 was simply the start of making up for the pay freezes and wage caps of previous years.
Annette Mansell-Green, BDA Trade Union Director, says "NHS staff have always worked incredibly hard for us all and this pandemic has thrown that into even sharper relief.
"We have seen the heartfelt thanks and appreciation the British public have for NHS workers during the recent frightening and difficult months. Now they want to see those workers properly paid and recognised.
"The last three-year pay deal was just the beginning of getting us to a place where we are paying hard working NHS staff like our members - dietitians and dietetic support workers - what they deserve after years of real-terms pay cuts.
"Our Prime Minister, Chancellor and Minister for Health have all expressed their desire to recognise the difficult, life threatening work done by NHS workers in the fight against Coronavirus. It is time they made good on that appreciation with an early pay rise."
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