British nurses have voted to strike over pay, the Royal College of Nursing said on Wednesday, as it announced the first UK-wide walkout in the union's 106-year history.
“Results of our biggest ever strike ballot show record numbers of nursing staff are prepared to join picket lines this winter,” it said.
Britain's health minister Steve Barclay described the decision as “disappointing”.
The move comes amid a cost-of-living crisis that the union says has left its members struggling to feed their families and pay their bills.
“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,” RCN General Secretary Pat Cullen said.
“Anger has become action — our members are saying enough is enough,” she added.
The industrial action is expected to begin before the end of the year, with dates to be announced soon.
The RCN is calling for a pay rise of 5 per cent above inflation.
Recent months have seen a wave of industrial action in the UK.
Tens of thousands of staff in various industries — from the postal and legal systems to ports and telecoms — have gone on strike across Britain since the summer.
The RCN says there are currently record nursing vacancies, with 25,000 staff leaving the Nursing and Midwifery Council register in the last year.