The Royal College of Nursing has confirmed that members in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will strike for two days in December.
The strikes will be the biggest in NHS history, and will take place on 15 and 20 December. Nurses will still provide emergency care, but routine services will be impacted by the strikes.
Industrial action was announced earlier this month after nurses overwhelmingly voted in favour of strikes. RCN members are campaigning for a pay rise of 5% above retail price index (RPI) inflation, which theoretically would mean a 19% pay rise based on the current RPI rate of 14.2%.
RCN general secretary Pat Cullen said: “Ministers have chosen strike action. 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.”
In England and Wales, NHS staff, including nurses, have been given an increase of at least £1,400, which is worth about 4% on average for nurses. In Northern Ireland, nurses are yet to receive a pay award.
Health secretary Steve Barclay said the 19% proposal was “not affordable” and will not open formal talks.
“Our priority is keeping patients safe. The NHS has tried and tested plans in place to minimise disruption and ensure emergency services continue to operate.”
However, Cullen said she did not recognise figures put forward by the government suggesting the rise would be 19.2%, costing £10bn a year.
She added: “If Barclay wishes to meet with me, get round the table and stop the spin and start to speak, he can avert these strikes,” she said.
“But my door is wide open night and day. I will make myself available, as will my team on behalf of our nursing staff. That option isn’t available to me at this time and consequently he has chosen strikes over speaking to me.”
Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said: “Why on earth is the health secretary refusing to negotiate with nurses? Patients already can’t get treated on time, strike action is the last thing they need, yet the government is letting this happen. Patients will never forgive the Conservatives for this negligence.”