Nurses will strike on two days in the run up to Christmas with more dates likely to be announced.
The Royal College of Nursing announced that healthcare workers would walk out on Thursday 15 and Tuesday 20 December.
They said in meetings with the government, ministers ‘sidestep the serious issues of NHS pay and patient safety’ leaving them no choice but to take the historic action – for the first time in its history.
“Not all members at employers where there is a mandate to strike will be called to strike on these first two dates. Phase one could be just the beginning of a longer period of strike action”, the statement added.
This comes amid a so-called winter of discontent with more than 40,000 members of the rail union RMT voting to walk out on 13, 14, 16, 17 December as well as 3, 4, 6, 7 January.
The RMT also said there would be no overtime across the railway network from 18 December until 2 January, meaning workers will strike for up to four weeks.
Today, the UK postal service is facing an “Armageddon moment” as Royal Mail’s eleventh hour bid to call off Black Friday strikes failed.
In a statement by the RNC, nurses will strike in England, Northern Ireland and Wales, but action in Scotland will be paused.
They said “the dispute is over pay, but also patient safety. Staffing levels are so low that patient care is being compromised. Only by paying nursing staff fairly will we recruit and retain people in our profession.”
RCN General Secretary & Chief Executive Pat Cullen said: “Ministers have had more than two weeks since we confirmed that our members felt such injustice that they would strike for the first time.
“My offer of formal negotiations was declined and instead ministers have chosen strike action. They have the power and the means to stop this by opening serious talks that address our dispute. “Nursing staff have had enough of being taken for granted, enough of low pay and unsafe staffing levels, enough of not being able to give our patients the care they deserve.”