Health workers in London urge local MPs to back early pay rise for exhausted staff and to protect the NHS

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Hundreds of health staff across London – including nurses, paramedics, cleaners, domestics and porters – are writing to the region’s 73 MPs asking them to back UNISON’s call for NHS staff to get an early pay rise in time for Christmas.

Staff employed in hospitals, clinics and ambulance stations across London are urging local politicians to put their case to the government for a significant pay rise of at least £2,000 for every worker across the NHS.

The NHS pay rise is due next April, but health workers, already worn out from the early stages of the pandemic, say bringing the increase forward would help staff feel more valued as the second wave surges.

Bringing the planned wage rise forward a few months would also place the NHS in a better position to face the future, say London health workers.

The pandemic has affected staff profoundly and many may choose to leave the NHS, such are the levels of exhaustion says UNISON. Raising pay this year could persuade staff to change their minds and make the NHS more attractive to thousands of much-needed recruits, adds the union.

With the arrival of winter, the second virus wave 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 London regional head of health Jamie Brown said: “Health workers are exhausted from the first virus peak. They’re now dealing with the second wave and a backlog of cancelled treatments.

We can rely on them as always to protect and care for us all. But staff are fearful and anxious because they know what lies ahead.

Now is the time for a significant pay rise from the government. Workers doing the job would then feel valued, and an increase could attract much-needed new recruits.”

London health workers calling on the government include the London Ambulance Service branch who released a video this week about their personal experiences of working through the pandemic, how it affected them and what a pay rise would mean to them.

From returning to work after just recovering from cancer, to dealing with almost 3 million calls to NHS 111 in March alone, NHS staff have gone above and beyond and its time the government showed its appreciation says the union.

Simon Fejfar is a recovery support worker at South West London & St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust in Tooting. He assists adults and young people with mental health problems, helping them look for jobs and learn basic skills. During the pandemic, he’s been providing patients with emotional support and helping them adapt to life during Covid-19. Simon said: “We’ve had ten years of austerity, pay rises that have really been pay cuts. Despite everything, NHS staff have stepped up and delivered when called upon. It’s time the government showed their appreciation with a real pay rise.”



Notes to editors: 
– Earlier in the year, a UNISON/Savanta ComRes poll showed that a majority of the public (69%) think all NHS staff should get an early pay rise. Two thirds (66%) of the public believe a wage increase for employees should be significant in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. An overwhelming majority (85%) believe pay should increase.  

– UNISON estimates that a £2,000 pay rise for all NHS staff would cost around £2.8bn in England (plus additional spending in the devolved administrations). 

– Agenda for Change staff in the NHS are currently covered by a three-year pay and reform deal, due to end on 31 March 2021.  

– The UNISON claim is for an increase of at least £2,000 to every point on the NHS salary scale. This would take minimum earnings up from around £18,000 to £20,005 and take the lowest rate in the NHS above the real living wage. The £2,000 would be worth 8% for a newly qualified band 5 worker (for example, a nurse, paramedic or IT manager) and would take their annual salary to £26,907 

– 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.

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