THOUSANDS of NHS workers in Hampshire could go on strike over a pay dispute.

More than 5,000 Hampshire NHS staff have been balloted, including nurses, paramedics, therapists, cooks, cleaners and office workers.

They are part of almost 25,000 workers across the south-east who will be asked whether they are prepared to walk out.

Unison members are being asked to vote yes in response to a NHS Pay Review Body recommendation to up wages by one per cent for all staff – which the union says has been ignored by the Government.

Tony Jones, Unison South East regional head of health, said: “We all know the NHS relies on the goodwill of its staff. NHS workers have been badly hit by the rise in the cost of living and the Government’s move is unfair and deliberately provocative.

“The Government has gone too far. Unison is balloting NHS workers and giving them the opportunity to make their voices heard and turn their anger into action.”

He added: “Voting for strike action is never an easy decision – even more so for NHS workers who spend their lives caring for people.

“But the Government’s refusal to give the vast majority any pay increase this year is a slap in the face.

“Staff are on average 10 per cent worse off than when the coalition came to power and this means their families are suffering and morale is hitting rock bottom.

“A well motivated workforce saves lives, so we need to cherish and support our NHS staff who work day in day out caring for others.”