Health workers stage protest to press the PM on pay decision

·3 min read

Health workers are pressing the Prime Minister to end their long wait for a pay rise amid continuing anger over the Government recommending a 1% increase.

Unison is staging a protest at Westminster on Wednesday, saying thousands of health workers across England, Wales and Northern Ireland will be looking to Boris Johnson to announce his decision in the coming days.

NHS staff were due a pay rise in April, but ministers said they would await the recommendations of the pay review body, which is expected to deliver its report within days.

Last month, health workers across Scotland accepted a pay rise from the Scottish Government worth at least 4% for most staff.

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Unison said it has been 300 days since it wrote to Mr Johnson asking for a £2,000 increase for every NHS worker.

Unison general secretary Christina McAnea and head of health Sara Gorton joined health workers outside Parliament on Wednesday, holding signs to emphasise that all eyes are on the Prime Minister to make a decision on pay.

Ms McAnea said: “He either has – or will have within days – the evidence gathered by the NHS pay review body. Boris Johnson is now the only person standing between health workers and a wage rise.

“Scottish NHS employees have been recognised by the Government there, which has shown it values everything staff have done this past year. Now it’s the turn of the Westminster Government to demonstrate its support for the NHS. The ball is well and truly in the Prime Minister’s court.

“All along Boris Johnson has had it within his gift to reward NHS staff, but he’s chosen not to, preferring to use the pay review body process as an excuse for delay.

“Further time-wasting runs the risk that more health workers will leave. With the huge backlog of treatments and operations looming over the NHS, that would be disastrous for everyone.”

Health unions in Wales have called on the Welsh Government to give NHS staff an “urgent, significant and well-earned” pay rise.

The unions have said if the pay review body’s report does not meet the definitions of “urgent” and “significant” they will request that the Welsh Government exceeds the recommendations.

Helen Rogers, the Royal College of Midwives’ director for Wales, said: “Never has ​it been so obvious that midwives, maternity support workers and all NHS staff in Wales ​deserve a decent pay rise.

“Maternity staff have spent well over a year working harder than they’ve ever done in the face of existing staffing shortages, underfunding and the restrictions that Covid-19 brought.

“Many are running on empty and are physically and mentally burnt out, they feel undervalued and are thinking with their feet. What we don’t want to see now is a​n exodus of midwives and other healthcare professionals at a time when they are most needed.

“That is why we are collectively calling on the newly formed Welsh Government to do the right thing and show staff they are valued with a significant pay rise.”

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