The future of NHS Pay is in your hands - UNISON launches consultation over NHS pay announcement

Rise doesn’t fulfil government’s own pledge to level up


The government has failed to honour its own ‘levelling up’ promises with the disappointing 3% pay rise for NHS workers in England, says UNISON.

Our NHS pay consultation will open on 30th July and run until 10th September, with members able to vote online at

The award announced last week doesn’t meet the real living wage of £9.50 per hour for the lowest paid health service workers and widens the gap between those at the top and bottom of the scale.

The 3% increase means the lowest earners will get a rise which is just one sixth of those at the top of the NHS pay scales.

UNISON is NHS workers on whether they accept the rise, or oppose it and are prepared to take industrial action.

More than 300,000 people across all disciplines – including nursing, ambulance, operational and technical services – will be asked for their views from this Friday until 10 September. UNISON says its elected leadership body is giving a clear steer that 3% is “unacceptable”.

In 2018, the government and then health secretary Jeremy Hunt made great play of raising the minimum NHS salary to the level of the real living wage for the first time. But ministers failed to embed this for the future and the lowest salaries slipped below, says UNISON.

Last week’s pay announcement means the NHS has failed to regain its position alongside the UK’s 8,000 living wage employers. The fact that the rate falls just 1.5p per hour short is an oversight that demonstrates how little attention the government has given to the lowest paid, says UNISON.

UNISON had called for an across-the-board £2,000 pay increase for all NHS staff. This would have ensured the pay gap and inequalities would not have widened further.

The only staff who do get a £2,000 rise with this award are those already earning more than £70,000 annually, UNISON says.

UNISON head of health Sara Gorton said: “All health staff deserve equal recognition for their contribution to the NHS and their efforts during the pandemic. But the pay review body’s 3% recommendation means thousands still won’t be on the real living wage.

“Missing the living wage target by 1.5p per hour shows the government ignored the lowest paid, for all the Prime Minister’s talk of levelling up.

“It’s vital staff give their views straight away. Ministers won’t wait to hear what health workers think before they begin paying the new rates.

“With this pay review process, it isn’t enough just to register disapproval. If staff want to challenge this outcome, they need to take part in this consultation and show there’s widespread support for industrial action.”

Health Branches across the North West region will be holding events and roadshows over the next few weeks to discuss the pay consultation with members and enable UNISON members to vote in their workplace. Keep an eye out for details and speak to your local UNISON branch about how you can get involved. 

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