Nurses in Northern Ireland will go on strike over staffing numbers and pay disputes on 18 December, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has said.
The union said its members were planning 12 hours of strike action, having voted for the move last week.
There are more dates of strike action planned for the new year.
The Department of Health said it remained “focused on finding a way forward” and was currently finalising a formal pay offer for 2019-20.
“This will be the best offer possible within the budget available, but the reality is that our ability to address pay issues is inevitably constrained at a time of intense budgetary pressures for health and social care services,” said a department spokesperson.
The nurses’ first day of industrial action, which includes refusing to do any task that is not patient-specific, will be on 3 December.
The industrial action will also include:
- Not working overtime
- Not working unpaid hours
- Not completing paperwork other than individual paper records
It is the first time in the RCN’s 103-year-history such action has been taken in the UK.
In a ballot held over four weeks, nurses were asked if they were willing to take industrial action, including strike action.
The RCN’s Northern Ireland director Pat Cullen said after the vote last week that nurses had “spoken clearly”.
The Department of Health said that, despite claims to the contrary, there was “no separate or untapped source of funding that we can access – nor can money simply be found in the budget”.