The Royal College of Nursing has revealed the first dates of their strike action this winter.
Hundreds of thousands of nurses will take industrial action over pay and safety on December 15 and 20.
The RCN said nurses have had “enough of being taken for granted” as well as low pay and “unsafe” staffing levels.
They said they were taking strike action after the government turned down their offer of formal negotiations as an alternative to industrial action.
Health secretary Steve Barclay said he was “hugely grateful” for the hard work of nurses but “deeply regrets” some taking action.
He claimed the RCN’s demands equated to a 19.2 per cent pay rise, costing £10 billion a year.
The strikes will take place in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The RCN will announce which particular NHS employers will see action next week when formal notifications are submitted.
In Scotland, the RCN has paused announcing strike action after the Scottish government reopened NHS pay negotiations.
The RCN say that despite this year’s pay award, experienced nurses are worse off by 20 per cent in real terms due to successive below-inflation awards since 2010.
“Ministers have had more than two weeks since we confirmed that our members felt such injustice that they would strike for the first time,” RCN general secretary Pat Cullen said.
“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.”
The RCN said the economic argument for paying nurses fairly is clear when billions of pounds is being spent on agency staff to plug workforce gaps.
In the last year, 25,000 nursing staff around the UK left the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) register. There are 47,000 unfilled registered nurse posts in England’s NHS alone, the RCN said.
Barclay said: “These are challenging times for everyone and the economic circumstances mean the RCN’s demands, which on current figures are a 19.2 per cent pay rise, costing £10 billion a year, are not affordable.
“We have prioritised the NHS with an extra £6.6 billion, on top of previous record funding, and accepted the recommendations of the independent NHS pay review body to give nurses a fair pay rise of at least £1,400 this year.
“This means a newly qualified nurse will typically earn over £31,000 a year – with more senior nurses earning much more than that – they will also receive a pension contribution worth 20 per cent of their salary.
“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.”