Thousands of nurses have agreed to stop industrial action planned for today after the State Government made a last minute pay offer.

Nurses at public hospitals in Perth have been closing beds and cancelling operations over the past week in their fight for a pay increase of 15 per cent over three years.

Now the Premier, Colin Barnett has made a conditional offer of 14 per cent if he is re-elected in March.

"I had no choice as the Premier of Western Australia," he said.

"My responsibility was to put the care of patients first.

"We will, if you like, increase the offer that we made to nurses, we have increased that to 14 per cent over a three year period."

Mr Barnett says the offer remains conditional because he cannot sign any agreement while the Government is in caretaker mode before next month's election.

"There was never any question that the Government and the Department of Health did not value nurses," Mr Barnett said in a statement.

"What has changed is that we have received advice from the Health Department that patient care is in peril.

"We have been warned that patients' lives are at risk because of the escalation of this dispute.

"This cannot be tolerated."

The Australian Nursing Federation has agreed to cease work bans immediately.

The federation's Mark Olson says Mr Barnett would not have made the offer if nurses had not carried out their industrial action.

"I know that this offer would never have arrived without the solidarity, determination and courage of nurses and midwives," he said.

"They have withstood everything thrown at them, that has never ever happened to any of the other professions."

Mr Barnett says it is 'extremely regrettable' that the nurses failed to comply with an order from the industrial umpire to stop their work bans.

"Unions must behave responsibly, the union should have followed the direction of the Industrial Relations Commission on Friday night," he said.

"I think it's extremely regrettable they failed to do so and I'd like to say the IRC was doing a terrific job trying to get commonsense to apply and to get a fair outcome."

Mr Olson says he will recommend his members accept the offer.

"Our members are now the highest paid in the country as of the first of July," he said.

Nurses will vote on the offer this morning.


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