THE announcement that about 600,000 NHS staff in Worcestershire and across the country will receive only an incremental pay rise have come under fire.

An independent pay review body recommended staff should receive a one per cent pay increase, but the government announced today that only some would be awarded this, meaning many face a fourth year of below-inflation increases.

Trade unions reacted with fury, with Unison accusing the government of “showing contempt” for NHS workers, saying that 70 per cent of nurses will receive no pay rise this year.

National officer Christina McAnea said: "The government has shown complete contempt for the NHS, contempt for staff and contempt for patients and will pay the price at the ballot box.

"Even a straight one per cent increase would be nowhere near enough to meet the massive cost of living increases that NHS staff have had to cope with since 2010.

“Staff are on average, 10 per cent worse off than when the coalition came to power.”

But chief secretary to the treasury Danny Alexander said all but some of the most senior public sector workers would receive the one per cent increase.

“Public sector workers make a vital contribution to the effective delivery of public services,” he said. “We need to continue with public sector pay restraint in order to put the nation's finances back on a sustainable footing.”

Chief executive of NHS Employers Dean Royles said he understood staff would be disappointed by the announcement but any more pay increases would put too much cost pressure on the already-stretched organisation.

"The simple fact is that the decision to have no annual pay increase for those already eligible for increments will help ensure more that staff remain in employment than would otherwise be the case,” he said.

"More than two-thirds of NHS spending is on staff and increasing all staff pay by one per cent would have cost about half a billion pounds – equivalent to around 14,000 nurses.”

Describing the plans as “yet another body-blow to NHS staff”, director for policy at the Royal College of Midwives Jon Skewes said it amounted to a pay cut.

"Morale in the profession is at rock bottom and this announcement will do nothing to help, indeed it will make it much worse,” he said. “When morale is this low and staff are disaffected they are not able to deliver the best care.

“It is impossible to get the best from staff when they are treated this badly.

“You do not help the NHS by hurting NHS staff."

A spokesman from union GMB said the organisation would be asking its members what action they would like to take going forward.