HEALTH workers across Wiltshire are to vote for strike action, their union said today.

Hundreds of staff are being balloted for action after being denied a pay rise worth £1,655, said UNISON today (Thursday, October 26).

The union says staff who work for Wiltshire Health and Care, including at Salisbury District Hospital, should be given the same money as colleagues directly employed by the NHS.

In June, a deal was agreed for workers on NHS contracts (and the Agenda for Change pay scales), which included a 5 per cent wage rise for this year and a one-off payment of £1,655 for the lowest paid for 2022/23.

Wiltshire Health and Care is an arms-length company owned by three acute NHS trusts - Great Western in Swindon, the Royal United in Bath and Salisbury District Hospital.

UNISON says Wiltshire Health and Care is refusing to honour the one-off bonus element, which means its employees will earn far less than NHS staff doing exactly the same work.

It says bosses’ refusal to honour the payment has left no alternative but to ballot staff. The ballot opens today and closes on Thursday November 16.

Union regional organiser Jayne Jackson said: “Staff employed by Wiltshire Health and Care wear an NHS uniform and are key to keeping services in the county running.

“They deserve proper recognition for their hard work and that means being paid fairly.

“Strike action is always a last resort, but staff are understandably frustrated at their bosses’ continued refusal to pay what their directly employed colleagues have already been given.”

Thomas Simblet, an assistant practitioner at Warminster Community Hospital, said: “Put simply, Wiltshire Health and Care should do the right thing and pay up.

“Staff feel devalued and don’t understand why they’ve been excluded when other NHS organisations have made the payment.

“All we’re asking is to be paid the same as health staff working for the NHS. Failing to honour the payment is particularly tough to take in when everybody’s facing the same pressures over bills and the cost of living.”