14 November 2023
Professional practice

European doctors’ concern over right to strike and physician substitution

The General Assembly of the Standing Committee of European Doctors (CPME) has adopted a statement of concern over UK government action seeking to limit doctors’ right to strike and an increasing use of ‘Physician Assistants’.
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CPME is concerned that laws such as the UK’s Strikes Act infringe on doctors’ right to strike. The Act gives the UK government the power to pass regulations that define a minimum service, with barely any consultation, that would undermine legitimate strike action.  

Minimum service levels are an important ethical consideration for doctors, which CPME supports, but this Act would undermine workers’ rights to representation and could leave unions unable to effectively represent their members.

“European doctors reaffirm that all doctors deserve decent and lawful working conditions. Where this is not achieved, doctors have the right to call for the restoration of such conditions. Regulations foresee that this can be implemented without unduly compromising patient safety.

“We call on all national governments to ensure doctors can exercise their social rights, including the right to strike as guaranteed under international law.”

The statement also expresses support for United Kingdom colleagues over their concern and opposition to the trend of physician substitution by ‘Physician Assistants’ and is concerned at the implications for patient safety with uncertain and potentially severe health implications.

Image: iStock / janecampbell21

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