Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt told ITV News 6,000 nurses could potentially lose their jobs if all health workers receive the recommended 1% pay rise.
Mr Hunt told ITV News Deputy Political Editor Chris Ship: "The reality that is if we give hospitals pay bills that they can't meet they'll only have one alternative, and that's to lay off nurses.
"The numbers show that potentially 6,000 nurses would be laid off if we accepted the pay review body's recommendations, and that's not a risk I'm prepared to take for patients."
More top news
Serge Pauwels took overall victory in the Tour de Yorkshire after winning Sunday's final stage into Fox Valley near Sheffield
Police have been forced to close down motocross event near Sedgefield after one rider was killed and another seriously injured.
A woman hit by police gunfire during a counter-terrorism operation has been arrested after being released from hospital.