NHS staff appear to be set to get a pay rise at less than half the rate of inflation, which could leave the NHS having to make around £1bn of cuts.

The Guardian reported that senior NHS figures expect ministers to award staff an increase of between 4% and 5% when they announce on Tuesday (July 19) how much the public sector workers will receive in 2022-23.

This decision could cause strikes as health unions have previously threatened to ballot their members if the pay rise was below inflation, a figure which stands at 9.1%.

The NHS Pay Review Body, which advises ministers, is understood to have recommended that all 1.5 million NHS staff across the UK covered by the longstanding Agenda for Change agreement – which covers everyone bar doctors and dentists – get a 5% rise.

However, the government is likely to provoke a row with NHS England by refusing to cover the cost of any award over 3%, a ploy that could cost the service up to £1.8bn.

Redhill And Reigate Life: Strikes may be balloted for if the pay rise is considered too low (PA)Strikes may be balloted for if the pay rise is considered too low (PA)

Downing Street provided a list of the professions for which public sector pay awards will be reported on Tuesday.

They are: school teachers, health workers on the Agenda for Change contract (including nurses), doctors and dentists, police officers, the armed forces, prison officers, NHS senior managers, the judiciary, senior civil servants, senior military, and police and crime commissioners.

Unison’s head of health Sara Gorton said: “With inflation expected to go even higher this week, reports of a 5% wage rise won’t go down well with struggling NHS staff.

“The public understands an above-inflation pay increase is needed or fed-up health workers won’t hang around.

“If the staffing exodus continues, waits for ambulances, operations and other treatments won’t reduce.

“The Government says it’s committed to the NHS, but a pay increase falling far short of prices won’t take the heat out of the staffing crisis."