The country's district health boards are trying to avoid nurse strikes despite pay negotiations breaking down.

The boards and the New Zealand Nurses' Organisation have asked for urgent facilitation through the Employment Relations Authority (ERA).

Mediation between the two groups ended last night without agreement on a revised offer.

The ERA could recommend a settlement.

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Meanwhile, health boards were continuing to make contingency plans to ensure emergency and essential services were available if the strike went ahead, spokeswoman Helen Mason said.

"We will continue to do everything we can to settle this agreement and avoid strikes."

Mason said the health boards had worked with the nurses' organisation in the contingency planning process.

"Our aim is to keep everyone safe during any potential strike – patients and staff alike – and that means significant changes to normal services. Each DHB will be in touch with their affected patients to provide more information on this."

The two strikes are scheduled to last for 24-hours from 7am on July 5 and 12.

Mason said if the strike went ahead, people should not delay seeking medical treatment. They should still dial 111 for emergencies or an ambulance.

For all other matters people should do what they normally do and visit their GP or a local pharmacy. Free medical advice would remain available 24/7 through Healthline on 0800 611 116.