Last chance to save the NHS

Ahead of Autumn Statement, Unite warns that if chancellor fails to properly fund NHS, the service will be 'in danger of fatal collapse'

Reading time: 4 min

Ahead of tomorrow’s (November 17) Autumn Statement, the leader of Unite has warned that a failure by the Chancellor to fund the NHS properly will leave the UK’s proudest achievement “on its knees”.

With inflation at a 41 year high, the rising costs of living measured by the RPI this week is 7 times higher than the Government’s (reported) 2% public sector pay offer for 2023.

Decent pay for NHS workers is directly linked to the future of the NHS itself. The service faces a mass exodus of workers who are getting better paid jobs, plunging it into further crisis. So those fighting for better pay today are actually fighting to save the NHS tomorrow.

Unite general secretary, Sharon Graham said, “The Chancellor has a choice before him at the Autumn Statement. He can choose to inject investment into the NHS and deliver a fair pay deal – or he can leave it as it is today, in danger of fatal collapse.

“We are in a fight to save the NHS. Lives are being lost. Workers are exhausted. The NHS is literally on its knees. Decent pay is directly linked to the future of the NHS itself. Different choices can and must be made, and the Chancellor must make the right ones.

“The message to the government is loud and clear. We are not standing on the side lines. Workers are ready to take a stand.”

Unite has begun balloting 10,000 health service workers for strike action on top of thousands of other NHS workers who it has been balloting since October. Unite is also planning to ballot thousands more in the coming months. 

Unite members are warning that without serious, urgent investment in the service and a fair pay rise, 2023 will see a wave of strike action as workers act to protect patients and the very future of the NHS.

Unite national lead officer Onay Kasab commented, “Our health service is on the brink after 12 years of brutal cuts that resulted in decimated services and massive staffing shortages. It simply cannot sustain more rounds of devastating austerity. Rishi Sunak’s Budget has to deliver proper funding and fair pay – the future of the NHS depends on it.” 

Unite’s warning on the NHS ahead of the Autumn Statement also comes as the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released its latest inflation figures today (November 16), showing the RPI measure of inflation rising to above 14 per cent.

Commenting, Sharon Graham said, “Today’s inflation figures confirm that the cost of living crisis continues. Ordinary families can’t pay their fuel bills, yet Shell and BP can announce twelve-week profits of over £15 billion.

“With wages still trailing behind price rises, British workers continue to face a national pay cut and now Austerity 2.0 beckons. Our economy is broken and workers cannot pay the price again for a crisis not of their making. Different choices can and must be made.”

By UniteLive team