HUNDREDS of health workers in the south east are urging their local MPs to back early pay rise for staff and to protect the NHS.

Nurses, paramedics, cleaners, domestics and porters are writing to the region’s 84 MPs asking them to back UNISON’s call for NHS staff to get an early pay rise in time for Christmas.

Staff employed in hospitals, clinics and ambulance stations across the South East are urging politicians to put their case to the Government for a "significant" pay rise of at least £2,000 for every worker across the NHS.

The next NHS pay rise is due in April, but staff are claiming that bringing the increase forward would help staff "feel more valued" as the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic surges.

UNISON South East Regional Secretary Steve Torrance said: “Health workers are exhausted from the first virus peak. They’re now dealing with the second wave and a backlog of cancelled treatments.

“We can rely on them as always to protect and care for us all. But staff are fearful and anxious because they know what lies ahead.

“Now is the time for a significant pay rise from the government. Workers doing the job would then feel valued, and an increase could attract much-needed new recruits.”

UNISON says the pandemic has affected staff profoundly and many may choose to leave the NHS, such are the levels of exhaustion.

The union added that raising pay this year could persuade staff to change their minds and make the NHS more attractive to thousands of much-needed recruits.

Mark a Clinical Scientist from Portsmouth who told his MP: “If you were to tell the average person on the street, to work for 13 hours, while wearing a mask, visor, gloves and gown in stuffy conditions, all while surrounded by a deadly virus, most would refuse.”

“However, the NHS has people who sign up to do this for well below the average UK wage. And yet they turn up smiling, happy to help those in need, despite sometimes struggling to budget what little pay they receive.”

“They have kept the country running throughout the pandemic and they deserve more than clapping, they deserve to have their financial worries eliminated. Please support our campaign to increase their wages by a mere £2000.”