Urgent: Appeal Campaign Title here about 10 words here

Nov 10th, 2022

Fighting to get NHS workers the payrise they deserve

by 38 Degrees team

A year into the pandemic, the Government’s proposal to give NHS workers a measly 1% pay rise amounted to a real-terms pay cut. After all our NHS heroes’ sacrifices in the face of coronavirus, this was an absolute disgrace – and our community pulled out all the stops to demand the Government did better.

percent proposed pay rise
people took action
coins in a wheelbarrow

NHS staff had endured twelve months on the frontlines of the pandemic, working flat out and risking their lives to keep us safe. For some, this proposed ‘rise’ meant nothing more than £3.50 a week. With inflation, it represented a real-terms pay CUT. Frankly, this was outrageous. We had all clapped for the NHS, now it was time to act for our healthcare heroes.

We kicked off a massive campaign to show the Government just how unfair this proposal was, highlighting the British public’s support for NHS workers to get the pay rise they deserved. We mobilised hundreds of thousands of supporters up and down the country to amplify NHS staff’s demands and to hold politicians accountable.

Pay rise for NHS workers

Boldly leading the charge were our supporters in the NHS who were themselves impacted by this insulting proposal. 38 Degrees helped 1,000 NHS staffers send back their pitiful £3.50 weekly rise to the Prime Minister to emphasise what this pay ‘rise’ really looked like.

Among these was Barbara, a 38 Degrees supporter, who felt compelled to go to London and deliver 3,500 £1 coins in a wheelbarrow to 10 Downing Street. Barbara spoke to Good Morning Britain about NHS workers’ response to this “devastating” proposal, sharing exactly why the Government needed to “do better”.


Barbara’s incredible action drew vital attention to this slap in the face for NHS workers, including coverage in ITV West Country News and West Wales Chronicle.

Meanwhile, over 190,000 of us signed a petition to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care and Chancellor of the Exchequer, where we called for NHS staff to receive the proper pay rise they deserve. Our community went on to chip in for a full-page ad in The Times, calling on the Prime Minister Boris Johnson to do the right thing. 

38 Degrees Ad in The Times newspaper

Almost 40,000 again asked the Prime Minister to listen to NHS workers after the resignation of nurse Jenny McGee, who personally cared for him when he was in hospital with coronavirus. Jenny felt she had no choice but to quit over the pay situation. Every time 100 of us clicked ‘ASK BORIS’, his office received an email about this. With more than 400 emails, we left the Prime Minister and his team in no doubt that we wanted to see our NHS workers rewarded after all they had done for us.

From start to end, this campaign was a hugely collective effort. Our supporters did an exceptional job of raising their voices for NHS workers, sending tens of thousands of emails to their MPs asking them to fight for a fairer pay rise. To hold MPs to account, we built an online leaderboard of their positions on this so the public could judge them by their actions.

We amplified our supporters’ messages through online ads in the Mirror and regional news websites, as well as creating social media ads. These were seen by hundreds of thousands of people, building the momentum behind NHS workers.

We also spread the word offline to make sure as many eyes as possible were on this unfair situation. Our community displayed thousands of posters across the length and breadth of the UK. We also plastered this message on the front page of the Chancellor’s local paper, the Yorkshire Post, underscoring how more than 30,000 nurses in the county had battled the virus on the frontline.

Yorkshire Post front page - 30,140 nurses in Yorkshire and the Humber

We didn’t stop there. Over 100,000 of us signed an open letter that we sent to the NHS Pay Review Body. We asked this public body to do right by NHS workers, as they had done by us. We made clear that the Government’s 1% pay rise was an insult to NHS workers and expressed concern that this lowball offer could shift the goal posts of what was acceptable. We highlighted the fact that the British public overwhelmingly believed NHS staff deserved a real pay rise to reflect the blood, sweat and tears they had put into keeping us all safe throughout the pandemic.

This campaign to secure a fair pay rise in light of our NHS workers’ sacrifices is just one part of the picture. The state of our NHS and the Government’s plan to fix it are nowhere near acceptable. Our healthcare heroes remain overworked and underpaid. It’s not on. We demand the Government acts to resource our NHS properly, stop creeping privatisation, value NHS staff and fill workforce gaps, and give the NHS the funding it needs.

Do you agree? Sign this petition to protect our NHS.


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