Open Letter to the RT Hon Sir Keir Starmer MP from 'NHS Workers Say No'

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Dear Sir Keir Starmer,


We are writing to you to ask for your unequivocal support and endorsement of our campaign demanding pay justice for NHS workers with a restorative, centrally funded, 15% pay rise for all NHS staff.


Our campaign was formed in 2020 by front-line healthcare workers who wanted to stand up and say no to the pay injustice they were facing. Since then, our community has grown to encompass hundreds of thousands of healthcare workers and other public supporters.


NHS workers have endured a decade of real terms pay cuts during Conservative austerity, losing up to 20% of their salary, as wages have increased significantly below inflation rates. Many NHS staff were also completely excluded from the Government’s announcements on public sector pay last year, despite battling on the frontline against Covid. And, on top of all this, the Government announced in November a freeze on public sector pay for another two years.


Our NHS and its workers were already at breaking point before COVID-19, with 100,000 vacancies, privatisation running down services and a looming staff mental health crisis. The pandemic has proven just how critical our NHS is and how indispensable NHS workers are. And yet, despite tirelessly working on the front-line to protect us all, dying from the virus at disproportionate rates, the Government has failed our NHS and its workers time and again during the crisis. This has been particularly evident in regards to pay, PPE and testing. Now is the time for the Government to make amends. Claps don’t pay the bills. Healthcare workers deserve fair pay. Now is the time to pay up.


Nurses United conducted a NHS Pay survey last year with 3,127 respondents across the pay bands with representation from all major trade unions within the NHS Staff Council. The results were sobering and reprehensible. Many nurses reported missing meals to be able to pay their bills and over 11% of them had missed a rent or mortgage payment. In one of the richest economies in the world, surely you would agree, this is absolutely shameful.


Not only does unfair NHS pay mean staff morale is at an all-time low, but it is compounding an existing staff retention crisis. The Nurses United survey found that 30% of nurses intended to leave the profession within the next year, with factors such as poor mental health (11%) or poor work-life balance (15%) cited as the most common reasons. 66% of respondents stated that they were frequently working below safe staffing levels, with 77% saying that they believed this was putting patient care at risk. The links between pay and staff retention are well documented, which is supported in that 99% of respondents said that NHS staff should receive a pay rise.


But it is not just NHS staff calling for this, there is strong public pressure for a restorative 15% pay rise for NHS staff. We have received nearly 800,000 signatures on our two petitions on “Organise” and “”. Additionally, data from a YouGov poll in January this year showed that 75% of the British public support at least a 10% pay rise for nurses and 79% support an annual pay rise above the rate of inflation. Many major Trade Unions such as GMB and UNITE also support our demand for a restorative 15% pay rise for NHS workers.


The government’s recent offer of a 1% “pay rise” – a real terms pay cut - is a kick in the teeth and simply adds insult to severe injury. You yourself acknowledged this, calling it “pitiful”, however you have not made it clear what you think would be an acceptable pay rise for NHS staff.


During the pandemic, you have spoken about how much you value the NHS and its workers. As leader of the opposition, representing a party with a proud history of championing public services and fair treatment of workers, we count on your support to unilaterally prove this now.


Please will you work with us to demand the government enact a restorative, centrally funded, 15% pay rise for all NHS staff?


We look forward to hearing back from you.

Full list of signatories

• Amanda Abbington – Actress (Sherlock)
• Annie Mac - DJ
• Christopher Ecclestone – Actor (Doctor Who)
• Colin McFarlane - Actor (Batman)
• Daniel Avery - DJ
• Eleanor Fanyinka - Actress (Holby City)
• Evannna Lynch - Actress (Harry Potter)
• George Rainsford - Actor (Casualty)
• Gethin Anthony - Actor (Game of Thrones)
• HAAi /Teneil Throsell - DJ
• Jason Manford - Comedian
• Julie Hesmondhalgh - Actress (Coronation Street)
• Maxine Peake - Actress (Shameless)
• Michael Rosen - Writer
• Nick Knight OBE - Artist
• Pearl Mackie - Actress (Doctor Who)
• Rufus Hound – Comedian & Actor
• The Blessed Madonna / Marea Stamper - DJ
• Tia Koffee - Drag Queen
• UB40 – Band


• Apsana Begum MP
• Bell Ribeiro Addy MP
• Claudia Webbe MP
• Diane Abbott MP
• Grahame Morris MP
• Ian Byrne MP
• Ian Lavery MP
• John McDonnell MP
• Jon Trickett MP
• Jonathan Bartley Co-Leader of The Green Party
• Julie Ward - Former Labour MEP
• Kate Osborne MP
• Rebecca Long Bailey MP
• Richard Burgon MP
• Zarah Sultana MP


Medical professionals
• Dr Andrew Meyerson
• Dr Keith Ison OBE - Retired Head of Medical Physics, Guy's & St Thomas'
• Dr Meenal Viz
• Dr Rita Issa
• Professor Mark Tooley FREng
• Emeritus Professor Peter Sharp OBE FRSE
• EveryDoctor


Influencers and activists
• Abi Wilkinson – Journalist
• Alex Light - Journalist
• Andrew Feinstein – Author, Campaigner & Former ANC MP
• Barnaby Raine – Historian
• Chanté Joseph – Journalist
• Chris Marks, Public & Commercial Services Union, National Executive
• Emma Dent Coad- Former Labour MP
• Grace Blakeley – Economist
• Hasan Patel – Activist
• Jess Barnard - Chair of Young Labour
• John Moloney, PCS Assistant General Secretary
• Kate Smurthwaite - Comedian and Activist
• Lara McNeil - Youth Rep Young Labour NEC
• Laura McAlpine – Activist
• Liam Young - Activist
• Matt Zarb-Cousin – Journalist
• Mikaela Loach – Climate Justice & Anti-racism activist
• Moya Lothian-McLean - Journalist
• Mx Jamie Windust - Contributing Editor at Gay Times
• Naomi Evans and Natalie Evans – Founders of ‘Everyday Racism’
• Nicholas “Mr Ethical” Wilson - Anti-corruption campaigner
• Owen Jones – Journalist
• Patrick Murphy, National Executive member- National Education Union
• Peter Stefanovic - Lawyer
• Prem Sikka – Professor & Academic
• Rachael Swindon – Activist
• Rustam Waham – Founder of UK Fact Check Politics
• Salma Yaqoob – Activist
• Sarah Beckett - Founder of The Voice Of Colour
• Tommy Corbyn
• Tommy Sheridan - Former Member of Scottish Parliament
• Venus Libido - Artist


• Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe on behalf of Unite the Union
• Frontline.Live
• Mike Forster - Chair of Health Campaigns Together
• Momentum
• NHS Staff Voices
• Nurses United
• Socialist Party
• The Harry Leslie Smith Trust
• United Voices of The World Union
• We Own It Campaign
• Young Labour
• Zita Holbourne National Chair - BARAC (Black Activists Rising Against Cuts) UK
• Labour Assembly Against Austerity
• Lindsey German - The People’s Assembly Against Austerity

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