HGV drivers delivering NHS equipment and supplies are being paid “an industry low” of £10.24 an hour, according to the Unite union, which is urging their employer to resolve a pay dispute.

It said talks between the union, Unipart Logistics and NHS supply company Supply Chain Coordination (SCCL), broke down last week, despite almost reaching a deal.

Unite said SCCL has been mandated to save the NHS £2.4bn through the unification of health service procurement, but it warned that this must not result in a race to the bottom for drivers’ pay and conditions.

It said Unipart Logistics and SCCL should commit to negotiations mediated by Acas, adding that it would “far rather resolve the dispute than ballot members for industrial action".

Unite regional officer Phil Silkstone said: “Our members are fed up with low pay for the industry they work in, despite performing a stressful role in ensuring that NHS supplies are delivered to hospitals and medical facilities across the land.

“It is extremely disappointing that negotiations between Unipart and SCCL broke down after positive progress had been made. Our members fully understand the need for a joined up procurement policy for NHS supplies to ensure health service funds are directed to where they will make the most difference. But this shouldn’t result in their pay and conditions being targeted.”

However, a Unipart Logistics spokesman said: “We have already offered Unite a pay increase above the current inflation rate, as well as additional sick pay benefits, for their drivers working for us on the NHS Supply Chain contract.

He added: “Talks are continuing, as we remain committed to constructive discussions on behalf of our drivers and to agreeing a fair settlement amicably.”

SCCL, which is wholly owned by the secretary of state for health and social care, did not respond.