Talks open today on the government's proposed new pay system for the NHS, as signs of trouble are emerging over low pay offers to non-pay review body staff.

Unison rejected outright an offer of 2.8 per cent to 150,000 administrative and clerical staff last week. MSF is planning a lobby of Parliament on 22 April to protest at a similar offer to professional, scientific and technical staff.

Separate offers have been made to four groups of staff outside the pay review body system. Each has been offered 2.8 per cent, except for groups acknowledged to have specific recruitment and retention problems.

Newly qualified hospital pharmacists will get up to 12 per cent, after the government offered to add an extra 2 per cent to the pharmacists' pay bill, targeting junior grades.

But most pharmacists will get 2.8 per cent, which is being compared with the 4.7 per cent for nurses and therapists.

Trained cytology screeners will receive increases of up to 11.2 per cent.

Unlike nurses and therapists, non-pay review body staff will not have London weighting or other leads and allowances increased.

Health secretary Frank Dobson claimed that all staff were being offered an above-inflation pay award, given the current 2.4 per cent 'headline' inflation rate.

But Unison deputy head of health Paul Marks said the offer to administrative and clerical workers was 'bad for morale' and undermined 'the notion that healthcare is a team effort'.

MSF national health secretary Roger Kline said the offer to professional staff 'defies belief and treats many of our members as second-class citizens'.

Despite anger at the pay offers, all employers and unions are expected to turn up for today's talks.

Mr Dobson said the new system would let staff 'give their best for patients' and allow better career progression.