Calls have been made for the government to give 'exhausted' NHS staff an early pay rise of £2,000 each.
Thousands of health staff across the North West – including nurses, paramedics, cleaners, domestics and porters – have written to their MPs asking them to back a pay rise for them in time for Christmas.
Staff employed in hospitals, clinics and ambulance stations across the region are urging politicians to put their case to the government for a ‘significant pay rise’ of at least £2,000 for every NHS worker.
The NHS pay rise is due next April, but union UNISON argues health workers are already worn out from the early stages of the pandemic and bringing the increase forward would help them to feel more valued during the hard winter months.
Health workers added that bringing the planned wage rise forward a few months would also place the NHS ‘in a better position to face the future’.
UNISON warned the pandemic has affected staff profoundly and may lead to people choosing to leave the NHS, ‘such are the levels of exhaustion’.
The union argued that raising pay this year could persuade staff to change their minds and make the NHS more attractive to ‘thousands of much-needed recruits’.
With the arrival of winter, the second virus wave and the increasing rates of infection, UNISON said it believes now is the perfect time for the government to show the high regard in which ministers say they hold NHS staff.
One community and neonatal nurse, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “I worked on a ward right through the pandemic – night and day shifts wearing full PPE, not just a mask. Sometimes you would be stuck in the full suit for hours with no drink.
“The pay rise would help us understand our worth. We are still working through a pandemic. We left our loved ones to care for our patients – your loved ones – to ensure they received the best care.
“I just want acknowledgement that we mean something. I chose this career because I care deeply about the health and well-being of others, I didn’t plan on doing it to put myself and my family at risk as I have been doing the last 6 months. The pay rise would prove our worth.”
A health care assistant added: “[A pay rise would mean] I would be able to pay rent and bills with a liveable wage. I could rely less on benefits and save for holiday.”
Another nurse said: “I currently owe £68,000 in student debt and I am seriously in two minds whether I want so much responsibility as a nurse for so little pay.
“I don’t feel that my debt reflects the pay and prospects for nurses. I feel that a significant pay rise would entice more prospective student nurses, which would help with the under-staffing issue within the NHS.”
A spokesperson for the government’s Department of Health and Social Care said: “We are grateful for the hard work and dedication of all our nurses. NHS nurses are currently benefitting from the final year of a three-year pay deal, agreed with trade unions, which has delivered year-on-year pay increases, such as increasing the starting salary for a newly qualified nurse by over 12 per cent by 2021.
“The independent NHS Pay Review Body makes recommendations to Government on pay increases for NHS staff, including nurses, and we intend to consider their advice when we receive it, while continuing to listen to trade unions and our valued staff to ensure everyone is rewarded fairly.”
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