oa South African Family Practice - Doctors and strike action : can this be morally justifiable? : CPD

Volume 51, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 2078-6190
  • E-ISSN: 2078-6204



Strikes are rare events in the history of medicine. Mainly their occurrences have been initiated by junior doctors as is the case in South Africa. In the most recent strike action by South African doctors, the root cause appears to be the long-overdue salary increases with specific attention focused on the government's failure to implement the Occupation Specific Dispensation (OSD). It is quite difficult to separate fact from exaggeration during doctors' strikes due to media hype and the variety of players involved. Proximity to life and death and contractual obligations are put forward as the reasons doctors are judged by standards higher than ordinary mortals. For patients, some of the harms occurred may include the following: work-loss (if employed), wasted money for transport, treatment delays, prolongation of suffering, irreversible damage to health, dangerous drug interruptions and death. Concerning doctors, some benefits of a strike action may result in financial gain, improved working conditions which may contribute to less emotional pressure and even a degree of dissuasion from emigrating.

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