The Royal College of Nursing is expected to announce today that nurses have voted to take strike action in many parts of the country.
Some hospitals, not all, will take action, it is believed.
The strike ballot among more than 300,000 members of the RCN was the biggest in the union's 106-year history and marks the first national action over a pay dispute.
An RCN spokesperson told Sky News: "Our strike action will be as much for patients as it is for nurses - we have their support in doing this.
"As we begin action, politicians in every part of the UK will be challenged to back their nursing staff and understand the strength of public support."
Although the details of the strike action are yet to be determined, patients are likely to face disruption to operations and appointments.
The union is campaigning for a pay rise of 5% above inflation.
Oliver Dowden, the chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, previously told Sky News that the government has "well-oiled" contingency plans in place for dealing with any strike by nurses.
In the event of industrial action, the NHS would prioritise the most essential services, he said.
Recent analysis showed an experienced nurse's salary has fallen by 20% in real terms since 2010, the union said, adding that nurses are working the equivalent of one day a week for nothing.
The RCN said there are record nursing vacancies and in the past year 25,000 nursing staff around the UK left the Nursing and Midwifery Council register.
The NHS could also be in line for a further tightening of budgets as Jeremy Hunt, the chancellor, faces the challenge of tackling a £50bn hole in public finances.
Last month Therese Coffey, the health secretary at the time, said the government is "not anticipating" having to put a higher pay offer for nurses on the table as they voted on strike action.