NHS strike
Nurses and other healthcare workers have staged a series of strikes in recent months over pay. AFP/Daniel LEAL

The UK Government announced that over 1 million NHS staff in England will receive a pay rise. The NHS staff that will see their salary rise include nurses, paramedics and 999 call handlers, midwives, security guards, and cleaners.

But, after the long-running disputes over pay, several NHS staff have planned to continue to strike until the government meet their demands.

After months of protests, which called for fairer wages, the NHS staff will also be receiving a "one-off NHS backlog bonus" of up to £1,250.

Steve Barclay, the Health and Social Care Secretary, recalled that: "More than one million of our hard-working NHS staff will begin to receive more money in their pay packet from today, including a backlog bonus for all their efforts during the pandemic."

The salary for newly qualified nurses will also increase by more than £2,750 over two years from 2021-2023. The nurses will also receive over £1,890 in one-off payments this year, backdated to April.

The government also announced that the newly qualified nurses will also see a one-off NHS backlog bonus, worth at least £1,250 per person. The one-off NHS backlog bonus will be calculated in regard to how much experience the staff have and based on an individual's pay band.

NHS staff continue to call for increased wages and improved working conditions.

The Health and Social Care Secretary also explained: "We're giving nurses, paramedics, physiotherapists and other eligible staff a fair pay rise, which will see for example, band six staff getting an extra £5,000 over two years."

The one-off bonus symbolises the government's gratitude towards the NHS workers who had to witness the sustained pressure of COVID-19 and the pandemic. The one-of-a-time payment also recognises the "extraordinary effort" that staff have made to meet the Prime Minister's promise of waiting lists being cut down.

"We hugely value the work of NHS staff and the vital role they're playing to cut waiting lists, which is one of the government's five priorities, and recognises the work they put in day in and day out," Steve Barclay concluded.

The decision was made following an agreement between the government and unions. The unions include UNISON, GMB Trade Union, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy and the British Dietetic Association.

The GMB Union is an organising and campaign union that represents over 500,000 workers. The union is continuing to campaign for an increase in wages for workers in the healthcare, public transport and education industries.

In 2022, the government announced a pay offer for NHS workers. However, trade unions rejected the offer, arguing that the wage increase was too low in the context of the cost-of-living crisis.

Over the past few months, NHS workers have been demanding change. Consistent strikes between union workers have taken place in and around London.

As a symbol of their protest, the striking workers have repeatedly chanted "claps won't pay the bills" from the picket lines. The satirical phrase is a reference to the government's 'Clap for Carers' during the COVID pandemic.

An image depicting the picket line during one of the NHS strikes in Euston.

A nurse, striking outside of the University College Hospital in Euston, told me: "I have been a nurse for 19 years in UCH and I'll still be here until they [the government] meet our demands."

John Considine, a Representative of the Royal College of Nursing, also spoke to me about the strikes for fair wages and better working conditions.

He said: "No nurse standing here today wants to be on strike, they have been pushed to do this by the Government. We have been very clear, and our message is so simple."

There is a planned strike taking place on October 6, which will no doubt be similar to the several strikes that occurred throughout London in the last year.

The nurse of 19 years also declared: "We are going to keep striking until they sit down and meet our requests... Until we get what we deserve, we will keep going."