UK nurses have held their largest-ever strike, demanding higher pay in a dispute with the government.

Members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) staged a walkout that began on the evening of 30 April and continued until midnight on 1 May, reported the BBC.

The strike saw participation from some nurses in accident and emergency, intensive care and cancer services, who joined the picket lines for the first time.

The strike was launched even though a new NHS pay offer from the UK Government was expected to be ratified by most health unions this week. However, the RCN is among the unions that rejected the deal, reported

RCN members in more than 100 NHS organisations launched the strike.

A meeting is scheduled today between unions, ministers and NHS leaders to discuss whether to accept the government’s offer of a 5% pay rise and one-off bonus.

RCN general secretary Pat Cullen told the government to “come back around the table and put a better offer on the table”.

The iNews website reported that the RCN is set to hold a ballot on taking further strike action that is likely to run until Christmas.

Noting the “heavy toll” taken on health services, NHS Confederation chief executive Matthew Taylor urged striking nurses to accept the offer.

Taylor told Sky News: “I think our view now is that, given that most staff have voted in favour of this deal, it is time to accept it; for the unions to work together and for us to think more long-term about what we need to do to address that crisis of 120,000 vacancies in the health service.”