Nurses across the UK have voted to strike over pay with action expected to start by the end of the year.
The walkout will involve Royal College of Nursing members in more than half of hospitals and community teams, but emergency care will still be staffed.
Nurses in every service in Scotland and Northern Ireland voted for action. In Wales all but one health board did.
Many of the biggest hospitals in England will see strike action by RCN members but others narrowly missed the legal turnout thresholds to qualify for action.
All NHS employers in Northern Ireland and Scotland will be included and all bar one of the health boards in Wales met the relevant legal thresholds.
Members working at St Thomas’ Hospital in London, opposite the House of Commons, will be taking strike action as well as members working at other leading hospitals in capital cities of the UK – the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff and Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.
Industrial action is expected to begin before the end of this year, with more detailed plans and timelines announced shortly.
The RCN will ensure that strike action is carried out legally and safely at all times. Our mandate to organise strikes runs until early May 2023, six months after members finished voting
RCN General Secretary & Chief Executive Pat Cullen said: “I want to thank every member who took part in, or supported, this ballot. You can be very proud. The results are strong and clear.
“This is a defining moment in our history, and our fight will continue through strike action and beyond for as long as it takes to win justice for the nursing profession and our patients.
“Anger has become action – our members are saying enough is enough. The voice of nursing in the UK is strong and I will make sure it is heard. Our members will no longer tolerate a financial knife-edge at home and a raw deal at work.
“Ministers must look in the mirror and ask how long they will put nursing staff through this. While we plan our strike action, next week’s budget is the UK government’s opportunity to signal a new direction with serious investment. Across the country, politicians have the power to stop this now and at any point.
“This action will be as much for patients as it is for nurses. Standards are falling too low and we have strong public backing for our campaign to raise them. This winter, we are asking the public to show nursing staff you are with us.”
Nurses are campaigning for a pay rise of 5% above RPI inflation to overcome those real-terms pay cuts, support nursing staff through the cost-of-living crisis and recognise their safety critical skills.