NHS staff with the biggest healthcare union in Wales will be balloted for industrial action over pay.

UNISON Cymru, which represents thousands of health and social care workers across the country, announced the vote after the Welsh Government announced that NHS workers in Wales would get pay rises below the rate of inflation, which currently stands at 9.4 percent.

The lowest-paid workers will receive a 7.5 per cent pay rise, while others will see their pay increase by between four and 4.5 per cent. 

This largely matches the offer made to NHS staff across the border in England.

Inflation - a measure of rises to living costs - is expected to reach 11 per cent by October.

“The Welsh Government has totally let down healthcare workers in the middle of the worst cost of living crisis in living memory," said Dawn Ward, chairwoman of UNISON Cymru's health committee.

"Our salaries have been so tightly squeezed by years of Westminster underfunding that NHS staff simply cannot cope with rocketing bills and groceries.

“Being a healthcare worker can be stressful at the best of times, you shouldn’t have to be worrying about where the next meal will come from - but that is the desperate situation many NHS staff are in.”

The UK Government has refused to fully fund pay increases in England, meaning that it will expect cuts to be made elsewhere in the NHS.

This also means no extra funding support for Cardiff Bay - and the Welsh Government has said this is why their own pay offer is not higher.

“It’s very disappointing Welsh Government turned down our request for additional pay enhancements for health workers in Wales," added Hugh McDyer, UNISON Cymru head of health.

"A decent pay rise would be a start in sorting out the workforce crisis which is at the heart of a number of health service problems.

“Welsh Government recognises their offer falls short of what is needed in this crisis, but blames a lack of funding for pay from Westminster.

"This deal does not meet the needs of the health workforce in Wales."

UNISON is the second major Welsh healthcare union to announce a vote on industrial action over pay.

Last week, the Royal College of Nursing said it too would be balloting members in Wales over the "pitiful and insulting" offer.

Unite Wales, which also represents NHS staff, is currently conducting a "consultative ballot" to "gauge the mood" of it members in Wales.

Last week Welsh health minister Eluned Morgan said: "Our NHS staff have worked incredibly hard throughout the pandemic to keep us all safe and they continue to provide an incredible service in the face of intense pressures.

"I hope this pay award goes some way to recognise their hard work but without additional funding from the UK Government, there are inevitably limits to how far we can go in Wales.

"We continue to press them to pass on the full funding necessary for fair pay rises for public sector workers."