PROTESTS over pay for NHS staff have been staged outside a hospital, with union officials saying more are planned in the coming days.

On Wednesday morning, NHS staff and members of the East Lancashire branch of UNISON stood outside Royal Blackburn Hospital with placards and posters, in solidarity over a pay rise dispute.

Branch secretary, Karen Narramore said there had been numerous protests up and down the country in relation to pay, with UNISON campaigning for NHS staff to be recognised for the roles they’ve played throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Mrs Narramore said: “NHS staff weren’t rewarded throughout the pandemic or when a pay rise was offered to other public sector workers in July.

“The government justified this by saying we were locked into a three-year pay deal which isn’t up for review until next April.

“It was a kick in the teeth to say our pay was not going to rise in line with other public sector workers.”

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At the start of the month, UNISON and 13 other health unions who represent more than 1.3 million NHS employees across the UK, urged the Chancellor and the Prime Minister to provide the funding for an early pay rise of £2,000 for all staff.

Health workers are currently in the final year of a three-year deal and are due a pay rise next April, but unions want the government to show its appreciation for NHS staff by bringing it forward to this year following overwhelming praise for their efforts during the pandemic.

In July, the government failed to commit to an early pay rise for NHS staff but increased the wages of 900,000 workers elsewhere in the public sector.

Mrs Narramore added: “The clapping for the NHS is all well and good but we don’t want clapping, we just want rewarding by being given a decent pay rise. We want £2,000 across the board for all staff.

“That’s what this campaign is all about. And the NHS Trusts support us in this. It’s about making a point and getting our voices heard.”

UNISON – which is the UK’s biggest union and represents all NHS staff says a £2,000 rise is the equivalent of around £1 an hour.

This Is Lancashire:

And according to Union officials, if the rise is accepted, minimum wages in the health service would go above £20,000 a year for the very first time.

In August, UNISON members delivered a letter to the Prime Minister urging him to put NHS pay top of his to-do list and bring forward plans for a meaningful and early rise.

“The whole clap for the NHS now feels a bit hollow; the pay rise we got in 2018 was the first pay rise NHS staff had in years, through all the austerity," Mrs Narramore added.

“Even if we do cement this £2,000 rise, we will still be way behind in what we should be receiving - we’ve bust a gut throughout the pandemic so anything less would be a kick in the teeth.”

More protests are set for later this week, with two at Burnley General Hospital on Thursday between 8am and 9am, and 4pm and 5pm; one at Pendle Community Hospital on Friday between 4pm and 5pm and one at Clitheroe Community Hospital on Friday between 4pm and 5pm.