UNISON members voted to strike yesterday after health secretary Jeremy Hunt's decided not to extend a 1% pay increase to all healthcare staff.
NHS employees at the top of healthcare pay ranges will receive the 1% pay rise, whereas those in the middle or lower end will not. They may receive an incremental increase, but this is not guaranteed.
Unite is also considering action, with plans to consult its 100,000 healthcare members this week.
Royles said he was not surprised by the actions of the unions, but warned strikes could have a negative impact on patient care. "People accessing healthcare are often at their most vulnerable," he said. "The very prospect of strikes when they should be receiving care will be deeply distressing for many."
Unite head of health Rachael Maskell earlier said the union had experienced anger from its members over the Government's stance on pay. “Unite will be liaising with other health unions and professional associations in driving home the message that health service staff have had their fill of being treated with contempt by health secretary Jeremy Hunt. Enough is enough,” she said.
UNISON head of health Christina McAnea said the union's members do not strike "often or easily" but members felt they had no choice. On the announcement of the 'yes' vote at a conference in Brighton she said: "We’re not asking members to strike for 1% we’re saying strike for a pay award that starts to restore the value of your pay, fight for a living wage for all."
The first day of industrial action is due to take place on 5 June.