Earlier this year 75% of junior Doctors voted in favour of walking out of their jobs and taking strike action. A question at the forefront of many people’s minds will be: Did the junior Doctors’ strikes mean that the quality of the NHS treatment deteriorated? Many officials believe that this is a definite possibility.
Patients Suffer For Workers’ Rights
During the month of January 2016, Doctors’ strikes saw significant absences of Doctors, excluding those in the emergency departments. This happened again in February. These repeated times of withdrawal of resources does not only have an impact on lawmakers, but more importantly means that those who need the service the most lose out on essential care.
When junior Doctors strike, even for a day, this could mean that thousands of patients across the UK are unable to be seen for their scheduled appointments. These appointments need to be made for another date and with the NHS already running behind schedule and beyond full capacity in many areas of the country, this can only be bad news. Patients who are recovering from illnesses or surgery and who are not seen in a timely manner may need to be readmitted. During the strikes, the NHS saw an increase of 6.5% in the rate of readmissions.
Negligence Claims Increasing
Following the decline of the service created by the junior Doctors’ strikes, several patients have started to come forward with complaints about the way in which their medical needs have been handled — or rather have not been. As the NHS has a duty of care to its patients, it is unsurprising that there has been a dramatic increase in the number of patients submitting claims for medical negligence against the service.
Many argue, however, that the junior Doctors’ strikes were highly important for the workers in the NHS. Many Doctors already work long hours with few breaks and unsocial shift patterns but further demands were being placed on NHS staff to work even longer hours and to take pay cuts.
It has been observed in other countries that patients are less likely to attend a hospital or medical centre where strike action has taken place. This is generally down to a breakdown in trust between professionals and their patients. Whilst the NHS may be a valuable resource for patients all around the UK, a decline in the service and a loss of trust from its patients could cause serious problems in the NHS.