In this BMJ article, Ryan Essex and colleagues consider whether patients have more to gain than to lose from healthcare worker strikes in poorly functioning health systems
Available research on the relationship between strikes and patient harm is limited and offers mixed results, most of which are not widely generalisable across different care settings, researchers said.
Overall, the researchers in the study observed a substantial decrease in the number of admissions or care visits during strikes, with broader care delivery changes varying based on who is striking. For example, when early-career physicians strike, research suggests wait times and length of stay are unaffected or become shorter.
"While patient safety obviously matters, the overly narrow framing of strikes as harmful to patients is not supported by current evidence; this also shifts focus away from the structural failings that drive strike action in the first place,"
"When health workers lack other avenues to enact change, failing to strike against suboptimal working conditions may actually be more harmful to patient health in the long run."
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