Battlebus arrives at Ipswich Hospital in call for NHS pay rise

Unison bus

Some of the UNISON team at Ipswich Hospital on Thursday - Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND

A UNISON battlebus leading the charge for a big pay rise for health workers has visited Ipswich Hospital - but staff and visitors had to search for it.

The bus is touring the region, with union staff on board promoting their claim for a one-off payment of £2,000 per person for all health workers for their efforts over the last 18 months.

The £2,000 offer has already been accepted in Scotland - but the government has told English NHS workers it cannot afford a rise of more than 1%.

UNISON regional organiser Sam Older said many NHS staff felt devalued after 18 months of working on the front line in the battle against Covid, only to be told the government could only afford a 1% pay rise.

Sam Older

Sam Older at the UNISON bus in Ipswich - Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND

He said: "In Scotland, they have been offered the one-off £20 a week increase which has been really appreciated. That would go down well in England and Wales as well."

He was frustrated that the bus could not be parked somewhere prominent at the hospital - the only site available was between some stacked containers near the ambulance station.

"In Chelmsford, we were able to park right outside the front so staff and visitors could easily see us," he said.

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Union officials were joined by nurse and Ipswich Labour councillor Sarah Barber, who said there was a need to improve staff pay to boost morale.

She said: "The (hospital) trust is giving us a small boost - a day's pay, a day off or a contribution to charity - but they're limited in what they can do and the government really should show their support for us."

Sachin Handa

Sachin Handa was concerned about staff morale if there is no reasonable pay rise - Credit: Paul Geater

That was backed by Sachin Handa, who works in the transformation team and came to offer his support.

He said: "The government has to offer staff more - there are real problems with morale, so people are leaving.

"They are moving into the private sector and then working here maybe three days a week instead of five.

NHS workers Kelly Shepard and Hayley Haddow. The Unison bus is at Ipswich hospital this morning, off

NHS workers Kelly Shepard and Hayley Haddow at the UNISON bus - Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND

"Staff need to feel valued and that means with their pay - otherwise there is no fun or joy in the work."

Mrs Barber added that many of the worst-paid staff are not directly employed by the East Suffolk and North Essex Foundation Trust, which runs Ipswich Hospital.

They are employed on minimum-wage deals with private contractors, even though they do vital work in the hospital.