Fourteen trade unions which represent NHS staff have called for a "substantial" above-inflation pay award for their members in 2008-09.
They issued their demand as they unveiled research which shows that three out of five NHS workers have considered leaving the health service in the past year.
While they said they are not considering industrial action "at this stage", they warned the government that their members still remain bitter about this year's below-inflation deal.
Karen Jennings, head of health at Unison, said: "This year we need a substantial, above-inflation pay rise just to put health workers back on an even keel.
"They are faced with mounting gas, water, electricity and housing bills - they cannot afford to take another pay cut."
Dr Peter Carter, general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), said: "The fallout from the government's decision to stage the pay award in England has been considerable.
"For the first time in the RCN's history we balloted members on industrial action and it was only with great reluctance the current offer was accepted.
"However, the whole experience has left a bitter taste and nurses will not be able to stomach another below-inflation pay award."
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Do you welcome this move for an above-inflation pay rise? Is it too little too late? Please leave your name, comments and location in the feedback box below. Your details will not be published if you so request. (Terms and conditions apply)
"I have decided to leave nursing as there has been no comparison with the way the profession is being treated by the government. They are happy to spend £22bn on rescuing a bank but sees no value in remunerating nurses accordingly. I doubt they have the courage to do it anyway. The option for the unions is to act on behalf of the members and do whatever it takes to ensure fair pay level. If it means strike action then so be it. The mandate has already been given by members to act on their behalf. I believe they will be more than happy to strike if need be. With the amount of times the unions have backed down no wonder the government can never be persuaded to do anymore. Nursing is a profession women are the majority, so there is a case for taking it up with the relevant statute" - Name and address supplied
"Very much a case of too little, too late. Nurse unions never stand up for nurses" - Name and address supplied
"What are the RCN doing about petrol allowances for community nursing staff? I work as a specialist nurse in the community and have had no increase in allowance since starting this job 8 years ago. Surely this cannot go on." - S Morris, Southampton
"Bearing in mind we are a public service, and the money for pay increases does not grow on trees!! A fair cost of living rise is necessary. If this does not happen the NHS Independent health services will employ lower paid, inexperienced staff. Thus the role of professional nursing will be obliterated" - Name and address supplied
"It would be nice if we had actually had this years yet!!" - Name and address supplied
"Yes, and I think the RCN should have been stronger as I know from speaking to colleagues that this seems like backing down, considering we have just had postal workers striking for what they believe. I care passionately about my role in healthcare, but sometimes its just too much to take. There are many roles within nursing and we all have to pay bills etc and often use cars to get us to and from work or even use them as part of our working day (District Nurses), yet we see no increase in petrol allowance but massive increases in petrol prices and tax. We are the so called caring profession, let's start caring about ourselves!" - Glyn Howard, Practice Nurse, Liverpool
"I do welcome it when our profession is loath to go on strike. You look at the postal workers who often earn more than we do, and they do not get paid enough and look at what we are offered, it's no wonder the NHS looses good staff. It's time we were appreciated fully" - A. Leach, Wallasey
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