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Strike action: Unison ballots 350,000 NHS staff over poor pay

‘NHS is losing experienced staff at alarming rates’ – union says government must tackle workforce crisis with an inflation-busting pay rise

‘NHS is losing experienced staff at alarming rates’ – union says government must tackle workforce crisis with an inflation-busting pay rise

Some 350,000 NHS staff, including nurses, are being asked to vote for strike action over poor pay as Unison becomes the latest union to launch a ballot on industrial action.

Nurses, porters, paramedics, midwives, occupational therapists and other NHS workers across the UK will today be asked whether they would support strike action on pay.

Second wage increase helps NHS hold on to nurses leaving for better paid jobs elsewhere

Unison says the most pressing issue now for new prime minister Rishi Sunak and health and social care secretary Steve Barclay is ‘without doubt finding a solution to

‘NHS is losing experienced staff at alarming rates’ – union says government must tackle workforce crisis with an inflation-busting pay rise

Unison ballots 350,000 NHS staff over poor pay
Picture: iStock

Some 350,000 NHS staff, including nurses, are being asked to vote for strike action over poor pay as Unison becomes the latest union to launch a ballot on industrial action.

Nurses, porters, paramedics, midwives, occupational therapists and other NHS workers across the UK will today be asked whether they would support strike action on pay.

Second wage increase helps NHS hold on to nurses leaving for better paid jobs elsewhere

Unison says the most pressing issue now for new prime minister Rishi Sunak and health and social care secretary Steve Barclay is ‘without doubt finding a solution to the many problems affecting the NHS’. It has again called for a better pay award than the 4% (£1,400) offered to staff in England and Wales.

A second wage increase that better protects staff against the ‘ravages of inflation’ and helps the NHS hold on to the many workers leaving for more lucrative jobs elsewhere would make a world of difference, the union said.

‘The NHS is losing experienced staff at alarming rates. Health workers are leaving for work that pays better and doesn’t take such a toll on them and their families. If this continues, the health service will never conquer the backlog and treat the millions desperately awaiting care,’ Unison’s general secretary Christina McAnea said.

‘It feels like the NHS is in the last chance saloon… Strikes across the NHS this winter are not inevitable. The government must start to tackle the growing workforce crisis with an inflation-busting pay rise and get the NHS back on the long road to recovery.’

Unison opened a ballot on potential strike action in Scotland at the beginning of October, with some 50,000 members asked what form of industrial action they would be willing to take over pay. The ballot was suspended on 26 October following a renewed pay offer from the Scottish Government.

The union is now deciding its next steps after the Scottish Government upped its pay offer last week from 5% to around 8% (£2,205), backdated to April.

Strike action in Wales deemed ‘last resort’ as RCN ‘ready and waiting’ to open discussions

Meanwhile, RCN Wales is challenging the Welsh Government to find ‘solutions to the problems that affect the Welsh people’, telling health minister Eluned Morgan in a letter that the college is ‘ready and waiting’ to open discussions on a fairer pay award than the 4% currently on offer.

Director Helen Whyley said strike action is a ‘last resort’ but one that has been reached ‘due to the Welsh government’s continual denial and inaction on addressing the issues facing nursing staff’.

‘NHS Wales spent £133.4m on nursing and midwifery agencies in 2021-2022, this was an increase of 41% compared to the previous year. This over reliance on agency nursing is a stark fact that demonstrates how this government must act immediately to attract and retain nurses,’ she added.

A spokesperson for the Welsh Government said: ‘We have accepted the independent pay review body’s recommendations in full and have been clear that, without additional funding from the UK government, there are limits to how far we can go to address these concerns in Wales and have called on the UK ministers to provide additional funding necessary.’


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