Nurses will vote on whether to hold England-wide strike action later this month after rejecting the government’s 5% pay rise.
Royal College of Nursing (RCN) members have held a series of strikes over the past six months and while 14 health unions last week agreed to a 5% pay rise, the nurses union rejected the offer.
Their previous six-month mandate to hold strikes ended last Monday.
The new ballot will open on 23 May and close on 23 June, the union said on Tuesday.
Pat Cullen, head of the RCN, told MPs on Tuesday: “I would really urge the Secretary of State to get into the room this week with the Royal College of Nursing about pay and other issues.
“Let’s not push our members to ballot on 23 May for another six months.”
If nurses vote for further strike action this time it could mean every NHS trust in England where RCN members are employed could take industrial action for the first time.
To achieve a country-wide mandate, 50% of all eligible members must vote and the majority must say “yes” to strike action.
In an email to RCN members, Ms Cullen said: “Every day, patients are at risk due to chronic staffing shortages. The government has tried to turn people against us by saying strikes are unsafe.
“But it’s their failure to invest in nursing that has made our wards unsafe.
“Record waiting lists, people left for hours in A&E, staff forced to treat patients in corridors – it’s all been caused by tens of thousands of nursing vacancies, not by our strikes.”
Last week, Unison, GMB, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists and the Royal College of Midwives were among the 14 unions who supported the 5% pay offer, plus a cash top-up.
Unite and the RCN both rejected the offer, with Unite saying it would take “escalating” action during the short period of time they have left as part of their mandate to strike.
Unite will also re-ballot its members on whether to continue taking action.