Restraining pay costs will be essential if the NHS is to minimise potential job losses and protect patient services, claims NHS Employers.
Despite the government's two-year pay freeze across all NHS staff, pay bill costs are set to increase by 2.4%.
The rise is due to a 2% annual increase resulting from annual pay increments given to nurses, administrators and other non-medical staff under the national 'Agenda for Change' pay arrangement.
This is combined with a 0.4% increase, which will arise as a result of implementing a £250 uplift recommended by the government to be paid to staff earning under £21,000.
In a submission to the NHS Pay Review Body, NHS Employers warned that growing pay costs threaten NHS efforts to maintain quality and workforce numbers.
"Employers are very concerned about the cost of the pay bill," said Dean Royles, director of the NHS Employers organisation.
"We are keen to continue discussions with trade unions on the NHS Staff Council about the scope for negotiated changes to the national pay agreements to make them more affordable and flexible.
"We also believe it is essential local employers have meaningful discussions with local trade unions and staff about the workforce implications of the financial challenges for their organisations."