NHS staff have angrily rejected new moves to curb their pay on top of a two-year pay freeze.
Health chiefs want to halt annual increments which are due to millions of NHS staff including doctors and nurses in return for a limited guarantee of no compulsory redundancies as they battle to carry out major cuts.
But yesterday the proposals designed to save 1.9bn over two years were roundly rejected by health unions.
Peter Carter, general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said they were an "unwarranted attack" on 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.
"Nurses and healthcare assistants did not argue against the two-year pay freeze announced last year as they accepted the argument that we're all in it together. However, there isn't much together about it and nurses feel they are being punished for an economic problem that is not of their making."
The British Medical Association also rejected the proposals, saying the new pay crackdown would have led to a "severe, real-terms cut".
Its chairman Bridlington GP Hamish Meldrum 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."
Pam Hughes, from the GMB, said: "Quite frankly it is insulting that this kind of offer has been tabled by the employer."
Unison has already rejected the measure, 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.
A spokesman for NHS Employers said: "Employers have told us they want to do everything possible to avoid redundancies. This deal provides a great opportunity to protect jobs for NHS staff and provide continuity of care for patients.
"We hope the unions will reflect collectively on its value and the fact that their decision to reject it will result in more redundancies and job losses than would otherwise be the case."
In an open letter earlier this month, a number of health chiefs from the region backed the increment freeze including Maggie Boyle, chief executive at Leeds hospitals, Chris Sharratt, chief executive at Sheffield Children's Hospital and Simon Pleydell, chief executive at South Tees.