Nurses and other NHS workers have been offered a three-year pay deal worth 8% by the government.
Health secretary Alan Johnson said the deal would give more than a million staff a 2.75% pay rise from 1 April 2008 2.4% in 2009/10 and 2.25% in 2010/11
The offer is one of the government’s new multi-year pay deals aimed at heading off industrial action and providing long-term stability.
The decision means that the minimum starting salary for nurses will now be more than £20,000 for the first time – a 24% increase since 1997 in real terms.
Unions have welcomed the offer. The Royal College of Nursing said the deal on the table was better than expected. Health service union Unison said the offer set a new minimum wage for NHS workers of £6.77 an hour.
Johnson said: “I am extremely proud of the outstanding professionalism of NHS staff and the high level of care they deliver for patients day in, day out. A multi-year deal ensures security for staff and allows them to plan for their future and the future of their families.”
Last year NHS workers reluctantly accepted a staged pay increase of 1.9%.
Separately, local government employers have offered workers in the sector a 2.45% pay deal – branded “hugely disappointing” by Unison national secretary Heather Wakefield.
The pay talks affect more than one million local government and associated workers in England, Northern Ireland and Wales. Unions are claiming a pay rise of 6% or 50p an hour, whichever is the greater, which would give a minimum wage of £6.50 an hour.
Employers have insisted that the 2.45% deal is a final offer.
Unions will meet on Tuesday (7 April) to discuss the offer and its formal response.