NHS unions have received a new pay offer and an announcement is expected this afternoon, Sky News understands.

It follows reports of progress in talks involving unions representing nurses and ambulance staff.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) last month agreed to suspend industrial action while it entered into “intensive” negotiations with ministers, followed by other unions.

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Unison, GMB and Unite also agreed to halt strike action by ambulance workers this month, with the unions saying they had been assured there was additional investment available for pay rises this year and next year, outside the current budgets.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt hinted a breakthrough could be on the cards on Thursday, telling Sky News that pay negotiations were making “encouraging progress”.

“Those pay negotiations are happening now,” Mr Hunt said.

“I think they seem to be making encouraging progress. We’ll wait for news but we want to solve them as quickly as we can.”

Union members will need to agree to the proposed pay rise before the strikes are officially called off.

Earlier this month, the Department of Health and Social Care told the NHS pay review body, which recommends how much all health workers should be paid, a maximum pay rise of 3.5% for 2023-2024 would be affordable.

The government has also recommended a 3.5% pay rise for the police, teachers and judges.

The RCN was originally calling for an above-inflation pay rise of 19.2% as nurses said they have had a real-terms pay cut of 20% since 2010, but its leader Pat Cullen said she was willing to meet the government “halfway” at around 10%.

Tens of thousands of nurses from the RCN went on strike for the first time in their more than 100-year history just before Christmas, then again in January and February.

The move in England to suspend walkouts followed a similar postponement in Wales.

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In Scotland, teachers have been awarded a pay offer which amounts to a 14.6% uplift over 28 months, with the Scottish government calling it the “largest pay package in over 20 years“.

However many other disputes are ongoing, with junior doctors staging a three-day strike in England this week in a separate row with the government over pay.

The British Medical Association (BMA) wants pay restoration as it says the wage for junior doctors has fallen 26% since 2008-09, with newly qualified medics making less than a barista in a coffee shop.