The best ways to thank NHS workers: Higher wages and more funding

Christien PhebyContent Manager
March 03, 2021, 1:34 PM UTC

Data from YouGov’s Healthcare Professionals Survey shows that 47% of health professionals think a pay rise would be the best show of gratitude – while 20% want more money for the NHS above all 

The COVID-19 pandemic has sparked a surge of appreciation for the world’s healthcare workers. Among other things, army helicopters have taken to the skies to shower doctors and nurses with garlands of gratitude; stars of musical theatre have paid tribute to them through the medium of song; and police officers have even arranged squad cars in heart formations. There has also been a great deal of clapping.  

But asking Britain’s NHS employees how they’d like to be thanked reveals that their tastes are a little more low-key. When told to rank  four preferred ways the country can thank them for their efforts during the pandemic, nearly half (47%) put “a pay rise for health workers” first – and nearly a quarter (23%) place it second. The government has pledged an increase to NHS wages for nurses – set to come into force in May 2021 – and January saw health unions launch a campaign to increase pay packets further

The next-most preferred thank-you gift is simple: NHS workers want the public to follow the rules. Three in ten said the best expression of gratitude would be the public properly following all coronavirus protective measures (31%), and a quarter (26%) said it would be the second-best. The government released its roadmap for easing COVID-19 restrictions on 22 February, with each step set to be assessed against four tests.

One in five want more funding for the NHS (20%) – a form of gratitude that half put in second place (49%). Health service capacity has been a central issue of the COVID-19 pandemic, to the point where two in five workers report that quality of care has become worse during the pandemic (40%). 

Finally, it’s “thanks but no thanks” to “Clap for Carers/Heroes”: the weekly ritual saw an attempted revival in January for the third national lockdown, but 96% of NHS workers ranked it dead last.  

See the full results here