A recommended 1% pay rise for NHS workers has been branded "pitiful and bitterly disappointing" by nursing union leaders who said the government was "dangerously out of touch" with health staff.
The figure, which covers 2021 and 2022, is contained in a Department of Health document for the NHS Pay Review body.
A section read: "The government announced a pause in public sector pay rises for all workforces, with an exception for employees with basic full-time equivalent salaries of £24,000 or under and for the NHS.
"In settling the DHSC and NHS budget, the government assumed a headline pay award of 1% for NHS staff. Anything higher would require re-prioritisation."
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said a pay award "as poor as this" would amount to only an extra £3.50 per week take home pay for an experienced nurse.
The RCN's chief executive and general secretary, Dame Donna Kinnair, said: "This is pitiful and bitterly disappointing. The government is dangerously out of touch with nursing staff, NHS workers and the public.
"It is not a done deal but the government has revealed its hand for the first time.
"With the time remaining before the Pay Review Body recommendation, the government can expect a backlash from a million NHS workers.
"Nursing staff would feel they are being punished and made to pay for the cost of the pandemic. It is a political decision to underfund and undervalue nursing staff."
Labour's shadow health secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, said: "A pay cut for NHS staff is the ultimate kick in teeth to our NHS heroes who have done so much to keep us safe over the past year.
"Rishi Sunak's promised to be open and honest with the public yet shamefully insults every single member of NHS staff sneaking out this announcement and failing to include any mention of NHS pay in the budget."