NHS staff ​across the North East urge the chancellor to do the right thing and fund a pay rise, says UNISON 

NHS workers ​in the North East have asked the chancellor to recognise the work they’ve done to protect lives and fund a decent pay rise in next week’s Budget, says UNISON today (Monday).

More than 60,000 health care assistants, porters, operating theatre staff, nurses, caterers, ambulance staff, cleaners and members of the public across the UK have signed a letter to Rishi Sunak asking him to properly reward NHS staff for their work before and during the pandemic.

Staff want the chancellor to back a pay rise of at least £2,000 for all NHS workers, many of whom have put their health, wellbeing and personal lives on the line since Covid-19 struck. 

In the letter, workers challenge the chancellor to step up and do his bit, as they have. They argue a pay rise would show staff they’re valued, provide a much-needed morale boost for burnt-out workers and tip the balance for the thousands on the brink of leaving the NHS, the union adds.

A video accompanying the letter shows staff describing the intense pressure they’ve been under. ​

Andrea an admin worker for the ambulance service said: “It has been very frustrating working through the pandemic in some aspects. However, I have been humbled by my colleagues on the frontline and am amazed by their resilience.  I volunteered to provide PPE to ambulance crews rather than work from home behind a computer.   I love working in my role, regardless of pay, but a pay rise would be wonderful.”

Nicola an OPD: “It has been hectic and terrifying. I went from working in elective surgery Monday to Friday to working in ITU. I was working a lot of overtime and was terrified of bringing this virus home to my family. I have 3 special needs children one of which was born 2 months early. Yet I still went to work and picked up extra shifts.

All of the People I work with picked up extra shifts, spent time away from their children out of fear of passing it on. We all left our normal roles and helped in ITU and A&E.”

When asked if a proper pay rise would make a difference to her role she said: “Yes definitely. As it stands I love my job and love my patients but as an employee working in the area that I work, I feel so undervalued and unappreciated by our government. Even with all the enhancements and extra shifts I struggle to make ends meet.”

UNISON regional secretary, Clare Williams said: “Health workers have been battling the pandemic for a year. That’s a year of incredibly long-hours, heightened anxiety around the safety of family and friends, and fears about catching the virus.

“All while carrying out demanding roles and dealing with the trauma of many thousands of deaths.

“They’re giving their all to keep us safe. On Wednesday the chancellor can and should give something back to them on behalf of the nation.

“Rishi Sunak must do the right thing and back up words of praise with concrete actions by funding a pay rise of at least £2,000 for all NHS staff.”