Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said that an NHS payrise, offered as a way of averting strike action by health workers, would not cost the taxpayer any more money:
The deal we've put forward on NHS pay is good news for patients, and I welcome the unions calling off strike action.
We've consistently said we wouldn't agree to anything that risked jobs and patient safety - and the NHS paybill won't increase next year.
But this pay offer gives 1.1m hardworking NHS staff a payrise without costing the taxpayer more money. The lowest paid will get £800 more.
Union leaders have cautiously welcomed a new offer from the Government in an ongoing row over pay.
Unison's head of health Christina McAnea said it "isn't a great offer" but that it would consult its members on the new terms.
The GMB amd Unite unions both said they too would consult members on the new offer.
Dr Peter Carter, general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said the "breakthrough" was a "positive start, but there is more to be done".
Planned strikes by health workers in England and Northern Ireland have been suspended, unions announced today.
It follows new offers made to union leaders in talks with the Department of Health, which are believed to include:
- A consolidated 1% payment for staff up to senior level
- An additional £200 consolidated payment for lower paid staff
- Abolition of the first point on the pay scale, and the second raised to £15,100.
The industrial action had been planned for Thursday and next month in a row over pay.
Talks aimed at averting next week's NHS strike have adjourned and will resume on Monday, unions have said.
The GMB union has issued formal notice of a strike by health workers planned for 29th January.
It comes as union officials return to talks with the Government later today aimed at averting industrial action.
GMB said it had served NHS employers in England and Northern Ireland with the necessary information about the stoppage involving hospital and ambulance workers.
Ambulance members of the union will strike for 24 hours from 0001, while other health workers will take action for 12 hours from midday.
Members of Unison and Unite are also set to go on strike on the same day.
The Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt will today chair a meeting of the Government's emergency Cobra committee to put in place contingency plans for an NHS strike.
Talks between union leaders and the Health Department aimed at averting the industrial action are set to continue on Friday.
News of the Cobra meeting came within hours of the talks being adjourned on Wednesday evening.
Health workers across England and Northern Ireland are due to go on strike next Thursday, January 29, in a dispute over pay rises.
Crucial talks being held today in a last-ditch bid to avert a strike by thousands of NHS workers in a bitter dispute over pay.
Today's talks were arranged after a meeting last night between Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and officials from several unions.
The industrial action in England and Northern Ireland is still planned for January 29 as unions continue to criticise the Government for refusing to accept a recommended 1% pay rise for all NHS staff.
Health unions are hopeful that industrial actions scheduled for next week could be cancelled after progress on a new pay deal, ITV News Political Correspondent Libby Wiener reports:
The Health Secretary has called unions to a meeting ahead of the latest strike planned by NHS workers in their bitter row with the Government over pay.
Sources told the Press Association that officials from several unions had been invited to the talks on Tuesday with Jeremy Hunt.
The meeting comes just over a week before a planned walkout by NHS workers in England and Northern Ireland in protest at the coalition's refusal to accept a recommended 1% pay rise for all staff.
Members of Unison, Unite and the GMB in hospitals in England will walk out for 12 hours between 9am and 9pm on January 29th, followed by a work to rule until February 24th.
Christina McAnea, Unison's head of health, said: "We have been asking for a meeting with the secretary of state since the dispute began.
"We hope the meeting will give us an opportunity to have serious discussions on how to resolve pay and staffing issues."