Health unions will push back against calls for a continued pay freeze in the NHS by warning that a third of health service employees have seriously considered leaving their jobs in the past year.

Last week HSJ revealed NHS Employers wants a zero increase in pay in 2013-14, claiming the NHS cannot afford the one per cent rise indicated by the Government.

However, staff side unions will attempt to argue the morale and motivation of staff has been hit hard after the current pay freeze, rises in pension contributions, and threats to terms and conditions.

Survey results, obtained by Health Service Journal’s sister title the Nursing Times, reveal a third of NHS staff have “very seriously considered” leaving the NHS in the past 12 months.

The survey will be used as part of staff side evidence to the pay review body, with unions arguing that staff cannot continue to suffer.

A source familiar with the evidence due to be submitted said: “Our message will be you can’t keep attacking on all sides.”

“A third of staff have reached the top of their pay band meaning they haven’t had a pay rise at all during the pay freeze and inflation has led to a real terms cut in pay of around nine per cent,” they added.

Responding to the NHS Employers evidence, British Medical Association chair Mark Porter told HSJ doctors were suffering “a crisis of confidence” and felt less valued by the Government.

He said: “The argument that continuing the freeze on doctors’ pay will help NHS employers maintain quality of care simply does not stand up to scrutiny.

“Junior doctors’ take-home pay is dropping, consultants’ pay has been frozen since 2009, and the latest earnings figures for GPs show that their net income continues to fall.  On top of this, all doctors have just seen more taken out of their pay to fund higher pension contributions – while the value of their pension benefits is being cut – with further contribution increases due to follow.”