NewsNHS pay update special

NHS pay update special

Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe, Unite national officer for health, reveals the ongoing situation* with ballots, and how you can use your voice.

Unite-CPHVA is constantly campaigning for a better health service – and your pay, terms and conditions are key to delivering this. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, Unite and other NHS trade unions are in dispute with their respective governments over their pay awards as recommended by the NHS Pay Review Body (NHS PRB) of £1400 backdated to April 2022.


  • In a consultative ballot of Unite members, 97% of Unite members who voted said that the pay award was not enough for all bands and was another real-terms pay cut. Subsequently Unite have run successful industrial action ballots in seven ambulance trusts and a number of other NHS trusts in England.
  • Unite – with other trade unions in the ambulance service – has taken industrial action on several days in December,January, February and March.
  • Unite and its sister unions have the simple demand for a pay rise for this fi nancial year (2022/23) that is in excess of the infl ation rate. Th is will help recruit staff to the NHS (there are over 130,000 vacancies in England) and address poor pay.
  • The UK Government refuses to have meaningful discussions with trade unions regarding pay to address these issues and resolve the various crises that are currently engulfi ng our NHS.
  • NHS trade unions have not submitted evidence to the NHS PRB for 2023/24 as they decided that they don’t have confi dence in the NHS PRB to deliver fair pay for health workers.
  • In England, Unite will continue to ballot groups of workers who want to take industrial action to stand up for our NHS and decent treatment for NHS workers.


  • Unite held a consultative ballot of Welsh NHS members, who voted comprehensively to declare the pay rise unfair and showed there was an appetite to proceed to industrial action. Anti-trade union laws for industrial action in Wales make succeeding in an industrial action ballot in the NHS a steep task, with 50% of the electorate needing to vote to validate a vote for industrial action.
  • Th e Welsh Ambulance Service succeeded in clearing the necessary hurdles to take lawful industrial action in for two days across the nation in January 2023.
  • Health trade unions engaged in talks with the Welsh Government at the beginning of February in an attempt to avert further strike action. Th is resulted in an offer from the Welsh Government of an extra consolidated sum of 1.5% on top of £1400 from the PRB award from 2022/23 and an extra lump sum pay for each NHS Wales employee worth 1.5%.
  • 90% of Unite ambulance workers have rejected this offer from the Welsh Government alongside the GMB.
  • Unite ambulance workers will continue to take strike action in February and March, but are open to having further talks with the Welsh Government to discuss solutions to end the dispute.


  • Because there is no government in Northern Ireland, health service pay has been progressing quite slowly and these health workers will only see the NHS PRB pay award of £1400 backdated to April 2022 in their March 2023 pay packets.
  • Th is has not daunted health service workers in Northern Ireland, and with no anti-trade union laws to confront, this has enabled all our members across all the health employers in Northern Ireland to take industrial action in December, January and February following a successful industrial action ballot across all members where over 90% voted for strike action.
  • Unite has attempted to bypass the political deadlock in Stormont by writing to the UK Government secretary of state for Northern Ireland, but the letter has not been met with a response at the time of writing.


  • There are direct negotiations between the Scottish Government, employers and trade unions, and no reference is made to NHS PRB.
  • Scottish trade unions twice balloted and rejected Scottish Government pay offers for 2022/23. Many unions in Scotland balloted successfully for industrial action including Unite. More pay discussions at the end of November brought a revised offer.
  • Unite members who were on the cusp of taking lawful strike action balloted our members on the improved offer of an on-average 7.5% increase across NHS Scotland, with up to 11.24% for the bottom pay bands. It means Bands 1 to 4 will receive a flat rate payment of £2205, and Bands 5 to 7 will receive increases ranging from £2280 to £2660.
  • Scottish Unite members accepted the offer, though three trade unions did not accept the offer implemented in January 2023.
  • Pay discussions for 2023/24 have already started in Scotland and have yielded a fresh offer from the Scottish Government that proposes Agenda for Change pay rate increases of 6.5%.

For further information, visit

*Compiled late February 2023


  • Speak to your Unite-CPHVA locally accredited representative (LAR) regarding your membership details and ask for Unite promotional materials to display in your workplace and give to your colleagues.
  • If you don’t have a LAR in your workplace, why don’t you become one or start a conversation about who might be one? Please contact CPHVA or your local Unite district or regional office to find out more what a LAR does.
  • Please visit to check your membership details are up to date so we can be ballot-ready.
  • Take part in webinars, union stalls, branch meeting, rallies and days of action that your local Unite branch or sister union branch may be organising in your workplace to highlight our claims for decent pay for NHS workers.

Image credit | Shutterstock


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