New Zealand nurses are expected to reveal tomorrow if they intend to strike should their increasingly militant demands for higher pay not be met.
The results of a 27,000-strong ballot by New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) union members will be revealed on Monday morning.
If nurses agree, national strike action will go ahead if the nursing union cannot reach an agreement with DHBs.
DHBs are expected to put forward a final offer tomorrow in a bid to break the impasse.
Any strike action would come at a difficult time.
Counties Manukau DHB has already warned Health Minister David Clark it will struggle to cope with this year's winter flu cases, saying Middlemore Hospital spent much of last winter with an occupancy rate of up to 170 per cent.
An independent panel set up at Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's request to resolve the impasse between nurses and DHBs, last week recommended a 3 per cent pay rise from June, another 3 per cent in August, and again in August next year to cover the cost of living, as well as a one-off $2000 payment to avoid strike action.
It also recommended a 2 per cent increase boost in nursing staff – around 600 - to relieve workload pressures.
The last pay offer by DHBs in April was 2 per cent over two years and a lump sum of $1050.
NZNO has said that it would prefer to settle with DHBs than to strike. But it says its members are dealing with an ageing and increasingly sick population, and staff are stretched because of a decade of underfunding of the health system.
The independent panel comprises former Whanganui District Health Board chief executive Julie Patterson, former Labour government minister and attorney-general Margaret Wilson and former NZNO chief executive Geoff Annals.