Government moves for a further clampdown on the pay of health workers have received fresh blows after nurses, doctors and other NHS staff rejected the idea and voiced fury at the controversial plans.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN), which represents more than 400,000 nurses, launched an attack on the proposal to halt annual increments on top of a general two-year pay freeze, in return for a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies.
General secretary Peter Carter described the proposals as an "unwarranted attack" on hard-working nurses, adding: "Asking staff to give up their increments when in return only some will have a guarantee of no compulsory redundancy is, frankly, just not on.
"We are also highly sceptical that the employers would be able to deliver their part of the bargain with job security. After all, the RCN's Frontline First campaign has already identified 27,000 jobs earmarked to go in the NHS."
The British Medical Association (BMA) also rejected the proposal after consulting its members, saying the new pay crackdown would have led to a "severe, real-terms cut".
Hamish Meldrum, chairman of council at the BMA, said: "While bankers are to be allowed to continue to receive massive bonuses, it is absolutely perverse to penalise the dedicated and hard-working staff who keep the NHS running. The service is about to undergo an expensive restructuring and there are many other areas where savings could be made in the NHS, such as the costly private finance initiative."
The GMB also turned down the idea, saying their members in the NHS were being asked to accept a "double whammy cut" in pay. Pam Hughes, chairman of GMB's NHS National Advisory Group, said: "Quite frankly it is insulting that this kind of offer has been tabled by the employer."
Unison also rejected the extra freeze on pay earlier this week, saying it believed the funding gap in the NHS was so great that its members were sceptical that NHS trusts would abide by a "no compulsory redundancy" agreement for two years.
Mike Jackson, Unison's senior national officer, said: "This was the wrong offer, at the wrong time. Unison members were extremely sceptical that trusts up and down the country would stick to the no compulsory redundancy agreement."
The Government expected that freezing incremental increases for NHS staff in England would save £1.9 billion over two years.