NHS workers including nurses, occupational therapists, porters, paramedics, medical secretaries, cooks and healthcare assistants have voted to back strike action in a row over pay.
A total of 68 per cent of Unison members voted in favour of being prepared to take part in a strikes while 32 per cent said no.
In the ballot, which also asked if they were prepared to take part in action short of strike action, 88 per cent agreed while 12 per cent voted against.
The dispute is over pay in England, with union officials arguing that 60 per cent of NHS staff and 70 per cent of nurses will not get a pay rise for the next two years.
This has created a “demoralised and demotivated workforce,” according to Unison general secretary Dave Prentis. Unison is the UK’s largest health union with 300,000 NHS members in England. There are 10 NHS unions currently balloting over pay.
Mr Prentis claimed: “Refusing to pay them even a paltry one per cent shows what the Government really thinks about its health workers. Inflation has continued to rise since 2011 and the value of NHS pay has fallen by around 12 per cent. We know health workers don’t take strike action lightly or often. The last action over pay was 32 years ago. But we also know a demoralised and demotivated workforce isn’t good for patients.”
A Department of Health spokesman said: “We remain keen to meet with the unions to discuss how we can work together to make the NHS pay system fairer and more affordable.”