The Royal College of Nursing urged its members on Tuesday to vote for strike action in an upcoming ballot, saying Government pay offers would still leave an experienced nurse over £1,000 worse off in real terms.
The union said that if the strike goes ahead, it would mark the first time its members have gone on strike in England and Wales.
The college went on strike for the first time in its history in 2019 in Northern Ireland.
The union said it had increased its strike fund by £15 million to £50 million to provide financial support for members taking industrial action.
The RCN’s General Secretary, Pat Cullen, said: “Nursing staff will stop at nothing to protect their patients. Staff shortages are putting patient safety at risk and the government’s failure to listen has left us with no choice but to advocate for strike action.
“A lifetime of service must never mean a lifetime of poverty. Ministers’ refusal to recognise the skill and responsibility of the job is pushing people out of the profession.
“The next prime minister must change course urgently.”
A vote on whether to walk out will open on September 15 and will last until October 13, with the RCN urging members on Agenda for Change contracts in the NHS to vote for a strike.
A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said it had accepted the recommendations of independent NHS pay review bodies to give most workers a pay rise of at least £1,400 this year.
“We want a fair deal for staff and we know that very high inflation-driven settlements would have a worse impact on pay packets in the long run than proportionate and balanced increases now,” said a spokesperson.
“Industrial action is a matter for unions, and we urge them to carefully consider the potential impacts.
"We hugely value the dedication and contribution of NHS nurses, and are working to boost recruitment, training and retention to ensure the NHS has a long-term sustainable nursing workforce.”