Boris Johnson is being urged to personally intervene to give NHS workers a promised pay rise.
In a letter to the PM, signed by UNISON, Royal College of Nursing and Royal College of Midwives, union bosses said “hospitals are stretched to the limit”, with many “demoralised and traumatised” staff facing burnout.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has previously said that NHS workers will have to wait for the independent pay review board to report back in May.
But unions representing more than 1.3 million workers urged Mr Johnson to speed up the pay review process given the scale of the challenge facing the NHS.
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NHS staff are having to cover for colleagues who are off sick with the virus or burned out by work in stretched intensive care units, they said.
The letter adds: “The majority of the public want this to happen, and it makes economic sense as health workers would have more money in their pockets to spend locally.
“This would provide a much-needed boost for businesses when the lockdown begins to ease.”
It comes as a poll of more than 2,000 people, commissioned by the unions from Savanta ComRes, found 86 per cent back some form of pay rise, with 40 per cent supporting a significant boost to wages.
Unison’s head of health, Sara Gorton, said: “It’s in the Prime Minister’s gift to speed up the pay review process.
“A wage rise won’t stop the virus, but it will show exhausted staff the Government cares as much about them as it does about their patients.”
Dame Donna Kinner, Royal College of Nursing General Secretary, said staff were worse off now than 10 years ago.
“When tens of thousands of nurse jobs are vacant, the Government cannot afford to let more leave over low pay,” she said.
Jon Skewes, of the Royal College of Midwives, said: “Putting extra money in their pockets would not just acknowledge and recognise their hard work, it would also put cash into struggling local economies and help families at a time when many will be facing mounting financial difficulties.”