The Health Secretary and head of the nursing union are to meet for talks, amid a bitter dispute over pay.
Royal College of Nursing (RCN) General Secretary Pat Cullen said she received a late-night email on Monday, requesting a meeting.
Ms Cullen said the 9pm email showed the Government was “watching” as nurses rallied at their union’s annual general congress in Brighton this week.
RCN members are due to start voting next week in a national ballot on further strikes.
The approach from Steve Barclay, currently in Japan for G7 meetings, is understood to follow a request from Ms Cullen for both sides to meet.
A Department of Health and Social Care source said the Health Secretary was happy to discuss working conditions and hear the concerns of nurses – but said the pay offer made by Government was a final offer which would “not be reopened.”
Ms Cullen said the talks were “not about negotiations” but said she would tell Mr Barclay why nurses had rejected the Government’s offer.
In her speech, she said: “In seven days from now, nursing staff in England will receive fresh ballot papers on the question of whether to continue with strike action for up to six more months.
“If you give the college another six-month mandate for strike action, across the whole of England’s NHS, then the Government will be forced to act once more.
“Nobody wants to see twice as many nurses take strike action. Or twice as many hospitals affected by a strike.
“Prime Minister, you did the right thing to open negotiations with me in February. Before the 75th birthday of the NHS this July, let’s get this job finished.”
She added that “‘they’ might even be watching congress”, adding: “I’ll tell you why. Who emailed me last night at nine o’clock?”
To cheers from the audience, she said: “The Health Secretary wants to see me.
“Colleagues, this is not about negotiations, but it is important that I go and tell him again why many of you voted to reject the pay offer.”
It comes amid growing confusion over the union’s stance on pay.
Ahead of a ballot of RCN members, Ms Cullen encouraged them to accept the Government’s offer of a five per cent rise for 2022-23, plus a one-off payment.
When members rejected it, the union announced the most extreme strikes in its history, with nurses walking out from A&E and cancer services.
In an interview on Sunday Ms Cullen demanded a “double-digit” pay deal to reopen negotiations. But she later suggested that she was describing a two-year period, over which nurses had already received a 9 per cent consolidated rise.
As the meeting opened in Brighton on Monday, nurses vowed to “defeat the Government” in their fight for a bigger pay rise.
RCN members cheered and applauded as speakers encouraged nurses to “strike to win”.
A Department of Health and Social Care source said: “The Health Secretary wants to work constructively with unions on making the NHS a better place to work and to listen to their concerns.
“But as Pat Cullen herself said, our fair and reasonable offer was final and will not be reopened.
“The offer has been accepted by the majority of unions representing staff on Agenda for Change contracts and we are working at pace to get the extra money in staff pay packets.”
Nurses are to be balloted again for strike action from May 23, after the previous six-month mandate expired at the start of this month.
If members vote in favour, it could pave the way for what Ms Cullen described as “another six months of industrial action right up to Christmas”.
The next ballot due to start on May 23 will be a nationwide “aggregate” vote.
This means if it wins, nurses at every hospital could go on strike.
However, it also increases the risk that the whole vote could be lost. The previous ballot counted NHS organisations separately, enabling strikes to go ahead in the areas which were most unionised.