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What Happens When Nurses go on Strike

Evidence on the Effects of Nurses’ Strikes

As a nurse, you’re bound to find yourself wondering what happens when nurses go on strike. Research shows that the number of unionized health care workers rose from 679,000 in the year 1990 to almost 1,000,000 in the year 2008. One thing you can be assured of is that nurses’ strikes are very costly and affect both health care facilities and patients. 

What Are The Facts on What Happens When Nurses Go On Strike?

According to research done in the year 1984 to 2004 on the nurses’ strike in New York City, there was an increase in mortality rate by 19.4 %. It was also noted that hospital readmissions shot up by 6.4% for patients that were admitted during the strike. During this time, it was estimated that 138 patients died during the strike and it is assumed that this would not have happened if there wasn’t a strike in the first place. This is evidence that there is a notable decrease in-patient care during nurses’ strikes. 

Are the Effects of Nurses Strike Similar in All Countries?

While examining what happens when nurses go on strike, it is also important to note that the effects of nurses’ strikes vary in different countries. For instance, the effects of such strikes at times do not have adverse effects in the 1st world countries as they do in the 3rd world countries. The latter record a high number of deaths in patients and to some great extent paralyze the operations of health care facilities. This is because such facilities are usually understaffed in the first place hence burdening nurses with the excess workload. This way, the absence of nurses in the facilities records a great deficit in duties and their executions. 

 During such strikes, the public has been found to often wonder, ‘why not simply hire other nurses during such periods?’. Well, it has been found out that this is never a solution and does not guarantee a lift of the burden that medical facilities experience during such times. It was discovered that hospitals that hired replacement workers during nurses’ strikes did not perform any better compared to those that did not hire other nurses. As a matter of fact, patients ailing from health conditions that called for intensive nursing were actually at risk of faring worse during the strike of nurses. 

 It is often questioned whether strikes by nurses are ethical. While others argue that it isn’t, others back it up in favor of nurses. In certain countries such as Kenya, nurses in public health facilities strike due to delayed salaries, inadequate medical supplies which makes it impossible to perform their duties, and also being understaffed which translates to overworking. This has led to low performance whereby fewer patients are attended to as well as extended waiting periods by patients. However, studies show that this has not had an impact on the mortality rate in the said institutions. Members of the public should be well educated on what happens when nurses go on strike to prepare them for the expected repercussions when such occur. 


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