NURSE strikes could hit A&E departments and cancer services as only chemotherapy, critical and intensive care and kidney dialysis will be spared.
Royal College of Nursing bosses today said only the most critical services will be protected from walkouts.
Local hospitals and union reps will negotiate over strikes in areas that are not considered “life-preserving”.
RCN general secretary Pat Cullen said: “Nursing staff do not want to take this action but ministers have chosen strikes over negotiations.
“Every nurse feels a heavy weight of responsibility to make this strike safe.
“Patients are already at great risk and we will not add to it.
“This list of exemptions shows how seriously we take our commitment and it should put patients’ minds at ease.”
Up to 100,000 nurses at 45 NHS hospital trusts could walk out later this month in a bitter pay row.
Services not exempted from the strikes face being cut back to a Christmas Day or night duty level of staffing, the RCN said.
NHS England said in a letter to hospitals that they must barter to keep mental health wards, urgent scans and tests, radiotherapy and patient discharge fully staffed.
Brits are already dying because of record NHS delays, with one in seven ambulances now waiting outside A&E for an hour or more because wards are so busy.
Paramedics have also voted for walkouts this winter and junior doctors will go to the ballot in the new year.
Health Secretary Steve Barclay said: “Our priority is keeping patients safe during any strikes.
“The NHS has tried and tested plans to minimise disruption and ensure emergency services continue to operate.”