Pay dissatisfaction has led members of Unison in England to vote for a strike.
A total of 68% of members, including healthcare assistants, nurses and porters, said they would be prepared to take part in a strike.
And 88% of members said they would take part in action short of a strike.
Earlier this year the government decided to go against the recommendations of the independent Pay Review Body (PRB) and not offer a pay rise to 60% of NHS staff and 70% of nurses for the next two years.
Instead, workers were offered a 1% rise to staff at the top of their incremental scale.
Unison general secretary Dave Prentis (pictured) said: “We know health workers don’t take strike action lightly or often. The last action over pay was 32 years ago. But we also know a demoralised and demotivated workforce isn’t good for patients.
“If we move into industrial action we will work with NHS employers to minimise the impact on patients.”
Prentiss called for Health Secretary Jeremy hunt to negotiate over pay. Previous requests have been “refused” by the government so far, he claims.
A Department of Health spokesperson said: “We are disappointed that Unison is planning industrial action and has rejected our proposals to give NHS staff at least 1% additional pay this year and at least a further 1% next year.
“We remain keen to meet with unions to discuss how we can work together to make the NHS pay system fairer and more affordable.”
Gill Bellord, director of employment relations and reward at NHS Employers said the yes-vote is “disappointing” for the NHS.
Bellord said: “We completely understand the frustration of many staff following a prolonged period of pay restraint but patient safety must always be our first priority.
“I would strongly urge unions to take patient out of this dispute and instead continue constructive discussions, exploring ways to come out of this period of pay restraint in a sustainable way.”
Ten unions are currently in the process of balloting over NHS pay. They will be working together over the date and type of action to be taken.