NHS staff at a Sussex hospital staged a lunchtime demonstration demanding a better pay offer from the government.

Staff from Mill View Hospital in Hove gathered outside the hospital yesterday in anger at the government’s offer of a below-inflation pay offer of three per cent.

Nick McMaster, local Unison branch secretary, said: “We are in the middle of a cost of living crisis, but the government expects us to take a real-terms pay cut with inflation running at nine per cent.

“The fact that NHS Trusts around the country are starting to offer food banks for our staff, demonstrates how badly the government have let us down over pay.”

The demonstration included nurses, admin staff, occupational therapists, ancillary staff and psychologists.

Mr McMaster said: “NHS staff are under enormous pressure at the moment.

“We kept things going during the pandemic, but the government clearly thinks we’re worth next to nothing with their paltry pay offer.”

More than 35,000 health staff and members of the public have signed an online letter appealing for health workers to be paid fairly, both for the job they do and for every hour they work.

NHS staff also gathered outside Unison’s headquarters in London yesterday, with the union warning the consequence of staff leaving the health service will be “longer ambulance queues outside hospitals, ever-increasing waiting lists, and people who are in desperate need of treatment getting sicker”.

Some NHS staff told Unison that they have found themselves “living hand to mouth”, working extra shifts to cover the cost of bills, and have been struggling to pay the price increase in the cost of fuel.

Unison’s head of health Sara Gorton said: “This is a desperate situation with NHS staff already quitting in their droves.

“The government can no longer put its head in the sand over this crisis.

“It is patients who suffer when there are too few staff to provide proper care. Ministers must ensure workers are encouraged to stay with an above-inflation wage rise and an end to poverty pay.”