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by Matt Trinder
HEALTH unions representing more than 1.3 million workers wrote to Prime Minister Boris Johnson today urging him to ensure that NHS staff receive a promised wage rise as soon as possible.
The letter — signed by the heads of Unison, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) — says “hospitals are stretched to the limit,” with many “demoralised and traumatised” staff facing burnout as they battle Covid-19.
It comes as the results of a Savanta ComRes poll published by the UK’s 14 health unions showed a majority of the public (53 per cent) think that the government should bring forward an NHS wage increase, with 40 per cent supporting a “significant” increase.
Unison head of health and chairwoman of the NHS group of unions Sara Gorton said: “It’s in the Prime Minister’s gift to speed up the pay review process.
“A wage rise won’t stop the virus. But it will show exhausted staff the government cares as much about them as it does about their patients.”
RCN chief executive and general secretary Donna Kinnair said: “NHS staff are worse off now than 10 years ago.
“When tens of thousands of nurse jobs are vacant, the government cannot afford to let more leave over low pay.
“A meaningful rise will bring in new nurses and keep experienced ones in post.”
The government relies on recommendations from the NHS Pay Review Body to inform its decision.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has given the body a deadline of “early May” to submit its report, meaning staff are unlikely to see any increase until the summer at the earliest.
In December Mr Hancock said: “We expect these recommendations to take account of the extremely challenging fiscal and economic context and consider the affordability of pay awards.”
Health unions have cited data from think tank London Economics which shows a pay rise is both affordable for the Treasury and would bring about an economic boost to communities across the country.
Treasurer for the NHS group of unions Jon Skewes said: “Over a million people work in the NHS.
“Putting extra money in their pockets would not just acknowledge and recognise their hard work, it would also put cash into struggling local economies and help families at a time when many will be facing mounting financial difficulties.”
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