Around 350,000 NHS workers to vote on possible strike action over pay

Credit: PA

Hundreds of thousands of health workers start voting on Thursday on whether to strike over pay.

Around 350,000 members of Unison working for more than 250 health trusts and boards across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, are being balloted.

In Scotland, however, a ballot of 50,000 that was already underway has been suspended after the government put forward a new offer of a £2,205 boost per worker.Porters, nurses, security guards, paramedics, cleaners, midwives, occupational therapists and other NHS staff are among those being asked if they want to mount a campaign of industrial action.

Unison, which represents the workers voting on striking, says that NHS issues are the biggest problems facing the new government, and is urging ministers to increase pay for staff.

Commenting on the ballot, Unison General Secretary Christina McAnea said: “Striking is the last thing dedicated health workers want to do. But with services in such a dire state, and staff struggling to deliver for patients with fewer colleagues than ever, many feel like the end of the road has been reached.  

“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."

Credit: PA

The government is urging NHS staff to consider the impact their actions could have on patients - although its thought emergency care would be unaffected in the case of a strike.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We are giving over one million NHS workers a pay rise of at least £1,400 this year, as recommended by the independent NHS Pay Review Body, on top of 3% last year when pay was frozen in the wider public sector.

“Industrial action is a matter for unions, and we urge them to carefully consider the potential impacts on patients.”

Other health organisations are currently considering industrial action over pay and conditions. They include the Royal College of Midwives, whose members are currently voting on striking, while a ballot of Royal Society of Nurses will conclude next week.

The UK has been hit by a wave of strikes from across the public and private sectors over the past few months, as the country grapples with a rising cost of living amid high inflation.

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