Can Doctors Go on Strike?

CAN DOCTORS GO ON STRIKE? The answer is simply yes since strike is a legitimate action to frown on unfavorable conditions. Strike action is legal and any institution that has legal rights can embark on strike when it deems fit by the abiding conditions. If doctors qualify under this democratic legitimacy, then under which conditions should doctors be on strike? * WHY DOCTORS GO ON STRIKE? From our history as Ghanaians, we have seen doctors going on strike for salary increment.

These urgencies may be as result of the following: From global perspective, the medical profession is indeed one of the various professions that carry dignity and every doctor has this rooted deep in his or her mind. The cost that involves becoming a medical doctor is less talked about. It really cost. For that matter many doctors don’t see it reasonable to leave on a meager salary. Another point might be the gravity of their services to patients. Many doctors do heart transplanting, fix bones, treat cancer, kidney, liver etc.

These works are very delicate and any careless attempt will end up paralyzing or resulting in the death of the patient. They are called deep in the night to respond to emergencies and many other emergency engagements. Doctors have also argued that the risky nature of their profession demands a higher salary. Sometimes they are prone to contagious diseases like flu, HIV/AID’s, TB, and over 200 more contagious deadly diseases. For that matter a high salary must be given to encourage or motivate them. All these points are reasonable though debatable. But often when we talk of risky professions, medical sector is the least talked about.

We talk about areas like the military, veterinary, police, fire service; prisons etc. are all coupled with high risk and are sectors that need great attention. * POSSIBLE REASONS AGAINST DOCTORS STRIKE ACTION Even though some international researches have proven that, doctors’ strike increases mortality rate, nevertheless, we can not overlook to project consequences that comes as a result of doctors’ strike. 1. Untimely death of patients 2. Prolongation of suffering of patients in severe cases 3. Breach of international code of ethics that doctors themselves have sworn into 4. Put pressure on government . Sensitizes other equally rated professions to follow suite 6. The public might see them as greedy other than selfless civil servants 7. Not ethical in its nature since it involves humans’ life 8. Their profession is no greater than others, etc. * THE QUESTION OF ETHICS In most cases, doctors’ strike has attracted many protests because the public think they are risking the lives of millions and however not ethical. Can ethics be applied to doctors’ strike? First, every doctor is already bonded by code of ethics. Each doctor before taking up the post swears to abide by a code of ethics.

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One of the lines in the international code of ethics for doctors reads like this, “I will maintain the utmost respect for human life from its beginning even under threat and I will not use my medical knowledge contrary to the laws of humanity;” The international code of ethics further states, “A physician shall not permit motives of profit to influence the free and independent exercise of professional judgment on behalf of patients. ” To the doctor, the life of the patient comes first to all other things. Doctors are also legally required to attend to patients and offer to them an undivided medical attention.

This legality exists between the doctor and the government. Though the patient has intent of receiving an excellent care and treatment after paying his NHIS, in cases of strike, the patient has no legal right to sue the doctor in question, unless a private or personal doctor. He can only sue the NHIS or Ministry of Health. The issues of ethics comes into play when we talk of issues of good and evil, live and death, justice and crime, etc. Since the doctors’ primary job is to save lives and that a lost life cannot be revived, it therefore becomes delicate for the doctor when taking any action that will obliterate these ethics.

Should a patient loss his or her life as a result of doctors’ strike, who would be blamed? The doctor or the government? * THE ISSUE OF EGOTISM When we are talking of labor strike, we must consider the consequential results also. This is what we call utilitarianism. From Wikipedia, “Utilitarianism is an ethical theory holding that the proper course of action is the one that maximizes the overall “good” of the greatest number of individuals. It is thus a form of consequentialism, meaning that the moral worth of an action is determined by its resulting outcome. When doctors think an action is right, then it must have a national impact as well. I am yet to offer a round of applause for doctors embarking on a strike action to improve quality health care products, laboratory equipment, enough patient wards, digital and IT infusion into the health practice, to stop nurses’ and medical personnel’s migration and others that bring a unanimous good for the majority of the people in the country. Strike actions under such circumstances are justifiable and must be given an immediate support and attention.

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