Fresh talks are due to start in a bid to avert strike action by more than one million health workers and nurses in a row over pay.
Union leaders said previous negotiations over the "miserly" pay award have so far failed to break the deadlock.
Now NHS Employers and worker representatives will again sit down to try and thrash out a deal before ballots on industrial action are held.
Unison and Unite are angry at the government for deciding to stagger a 2.5% rise that was recommended by an independent review body.
They claim this will reduce the value of the award to 1.9%, raising the prospect of an autumn of disruption in the health service.
The devolved administrations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have further complicated the matter by voting to bring in the wage rise in one go, leaving their colleagues in England lagging behind.
A Department of Health spokesman said: "We continue to discuss with the unions potential solutions to the 2007-08 pay award.
"The pay award for health professionals in England is a fair award reflecting the balance between the right level of pay, and the need to be vigilant against the threats of inflation.
"Staging was an essential component of the government's public sector pay strategy. Prudent management of the economy resulting in steady growth and low inflation has enabled the government to make unprecedented investment in the NHS and its staff in recent years.
"The government has been committed to ensuring NHS staff are better paid, and is maintaining the normal course of dialogue with the health service trade unions, to seek a resolution on a range of issues following the 2007-08 pay award."