Nurses are set to engage in a massive strike over pay union officials said that "large swathes of the country" had voted for industrial action.
The NHS could be brought to its knees ahead of Christmas, with mass cancellations and delays in appointments likely.
A union source told The Observer that the strike "will see the majority of services taken out, and picket lines across the country".
Union officials say that the pay of some experienced nurses has declined by 20% in real terms and have called for a 5% increase plus inflation – totalling around 15%.
The government has said that the average basic annual pay for nurses would increase from £35,600 to around £3700 from March 2022, which equates to a rise of 4%.
There is concern that the NHS could fall into a deeper crisis if nurses strike en masse, with a record 7 million people already waiting for hospital treatment in England at the end of August.