The Government has come under attack after confirmation that the pay of more than a million health workers is going to be frozen for two years.

Unison said the announcement was a “bitter blow” for nurses, paramedics, therapists and other NHS staff who were already facing increased pension contributions.

Low-paid workers such as cleaners, porters, healthcare assistants and cooks, earning below £21,000, will receive a rise of £250, but the union said this was “totally inadequate”.

The Government said it had accepted the recommendations of Pay Review Bodies for public sector pay awards for 2011-12.

In line with the announcement made in the June Budget, public sector workers covered by the bodies earning £21,000 or less will receive a pay increase of £250 for 2011-12, while those earning over £21,000 will have their pay frozen for two years, saving £3.3 billion a year by 2014-15.

Mike Jackson, Unison’s national officer, said: “It is completely unjust for the Government to make nurses, paramedics, therapists and skilled NHS staff the fall-guys for the financial crisis brought down on the country by the bankers.

“The £250 is a totally inadequate token gesture designed to salve the conscience of coalition MPs. They know that health workers did not cause the crisis, that inflation is going up and that families, already struggling with mounting debts and rising inflation, will suffer because of their decision today.”

Mr Jackson said he expected widespread anger over pay at Unison’s health conference in Liverpool next month, adding: “The job cuts, cancelled operations and longer waiting times are deeply distressing for health workers and the pay freeze is likely to be the final straw.”

Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said: “By taking tough decisions on a pay freeze, we have been able to provide a fair increase for the low paid. I am pleased the Pay Review Bodies have recommended a £250 uplift.”

A Department of Health spokesman said: “We welcome the report of the NHS Pay Review Body and accept its recommendations in full. They will support continuing NHS service improvements and the position of lower paid NHS staff in the face of a tough economic climate They also achieve the Government’s commitment to protect those on low incomes.”