NHS workers in Portsmouth feel 'taken advantage of' with 'pitiful' wage increase offer

HEALTHCARE workers in Portsmouth say they are being ‘taken advantage of’ as a ‘pitiful’ three per cent pay rise has been offered to NHS staff.

Government announced the wage increase on Wednesday, sparking outcry from unions and the Royal College of Nursing - which had been asking for a 12.5 per cent rise.

According to the Department of Health and Social Care the ‘average nurse’ will receive an additional £1,000 a year, while many porters and cleaners will get around £540 as a result.

However, frustrated staff have slammed the decision, saying it doesn’t match inflation or compensate for years of pay freezes.

Crowds outside of the King's Theatre on Albert Road demonstrate in support of the NHS on July 3. Picture: Mike Cooter (030721)

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Samuel Holah, 29, who has worked in the NHS for five years and is currently a trainee clinical psychologist in the Portsmouth community, said: ‘I don’t think it’s good enough.

‘Other industries are staying ahead of inflation but the whole time I’ve worked in the NHS it’s been a pay freeze or a pay cut.

‘When I look at Scotland where healthcare workers had a bonus during the pandemic and a better pay rise it feels like England is getting left behind.

Trainee clinical psychologist Sam Holah, 29, who works in the Portsmouth community

‘We’re being taken advantage of. I do the job because I love it and couldn't imagine doing anything else so they take advantage of that.’

Labour councillor Tom Coles is a healthcare support worker at Queen Alexandra Hospital.

The 38-year-old said: ‘Considering the challenges faced by frontline staff over the past eighteen months, to offer just three per cent is pitiful.

‘The government was happy to clap for NHS staff but seem to be reluctant to reward them properly.’

Although the rise is an increase on an original one per cent offer from government, unions have said they will continue to fight for better pay.

Liam Kenny, the south east head of health for Unison, said ‘Even though the prime minister has moved in the right direction, the 3 per cent increase falls short of expectations and is nowhere close to what staff deserve after the past 16 months.

‘As staff ready themselves to deal with another wave, the government must show it values what they’ve done and understands the nightmare they’ve been through. Not just during the pandemic but in tackling the mammoth backlog too.’

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan added: ‘Ministers have been dragged kicking and screaming to a three per cent rise, which will still be bitterly disappointing for the NHS staff who cared for our city during the pandemic.

’Ministers must get their priorities right. This is not just about money, it is a test of who we are as a nation.’

The prime minister’s spokesman said the pay increase would not take cash from frontline services.

He said: ‘We believe this strikes the right balance in light of the wider public finance pressures as a result of the pandemic, which means that other public sectors aren’t receiving a pay rise.

‘And, like in previous years, we’ve accepted the recommendation of the independent pay review body.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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