NHS staff could face a real-terms pay cut under a Tory government, according to the Labour party.
The claim was made after the Conservative shadow health secretary, Andrew Lansley, said the health service could not afford "inflationary" pay rises.
In an interview earlier this week, Mr Lansley suggested that health service pay should be set locally.
He said in a statement: "The problem in recent years has been that staff pay has simply increased in line with the huge rises in the NHS budget. Future NHS allocations will not be able to accommodate inflationary staff costs."
But according to a spokesman for Mr Lansley, the MP was merely pointing out that "the NHS cannot afford massive pay rises".
He said the Conservative Party was committed to devolving control to local NHS employers, with decisions on pay taken away from the health secretary.
The issue arose amid calls from Tory party leader David Cameron for ministers to start making savings in public services now.
"Conservative ethos if it does not pay close it. If it does pay close it. If our country needs it close it. British coal mines 300 years of supplies left. Yes I think any one in the NHS should be worried" - David Sharples, North East
"More than likely. But they need to be careful that we don't start to lose key staff, particularly in the frontline sections. I have given the staff a rise for the first time in three years this year" – Mike Robinson, location withheld