Unions claim the skills of UK doctors and nurses are going unrecognised by government, as the Treasury challenges the call to give above-inflation pay rises to medics.
The dispute is also delaying the publication of pay awards for prison officers, top armed forces ranks, senior civil servants and judges.
According to the Financial Times, the objection to this above-inflation salary hike comes from the Treasury, which has calculated that UK doctors and nurses are among the best paid in the world.
The NHS has overspent to record levels this year, projected in January to reach £790m. Doctors’ salaries have increased on average by 30 to 40% since 2003.
Only American and Australian nurses earn more than their British peers, and UK doctors are only superseded by their US counterparts.
The NHS insists that a 2.5% increase, which is broadly in line with inflation, is “the most that can be afforded”.
Beverly Malone, general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said the NHS was “now dangerously close to losing nurses’ goodwill”.