Staff at six hospitals across Wiltshire are set to strike on Valentine’s Day after not receiving the pay rise they were promised.

Workers employed by Wiltshire Health and Care will walk out from Chippenham, Devizes, Melksham, Savernake, Trowbridge and Warminster community hospitals on Wednesday, February 14.

Over 95 per cent of UNISON union members have backed the strike action, as they say they were promised a pay rise worth £1,655 – but are still awaiting to receive it.

In June, a deal was agreed for workers on NHS contracts (Agenda for Change pay scales), which included a 5 per cent wage rise for the current financial year and a one-off payment of £1,655 for the lowest paid for 2022/23.

But according to UNISON, the union representing healthcare professionals, Wiltshire Health and Care refuses to honour the one-off bonus element which means staff are earning far less than other NHS employees in the country doing the same work.

“Wiltshire Health and Care should do the right thing and pay up,” said Thomas Simblet, an assistant practitioner at Warminster Community Hospital.
“Staff feel devalued and don’t understand why they’ve been excluded when other NHS organisations have made the payment.
“The company's failure to honour the one-off bonus is particularly tough to take in when everybody’s facing the same huge cost-of-living pressures.”

UNISON has over 1.3 million union members and supports members working across public services including the NHS, education, local government, police service and energy.

This Valentine’s Day strike will mark the second day of action for UNISON members, after healthcare staff also walked out on Tuesday, December 12, 2023.

Shirley-Ann Carvill, managing director of Wiltshire Health and Care, reassured patients that services would still be delivered but with a reduced staffing level.

“Wiltshire Health and Care staff wear an NHS uniform and are key to keeping services in the county running,” explained UNISON South West organiser, Jayne Jackson.
“They deserve proper recognition for their hard work and that means being paid fairly. Failure to deliver the bonus has left staff feeling unloved and with no alternative but to strike.
“The lump sum would make a huge difference. It would also make financial sense for Wiltshire Health and Care as the extra cash could be just the thing to persuade disillusioned workers not to quit the firm for good.”