Healthcare Workers Strikes 2023: For or Against?

*The translation of this article in French and Portuguese has been made through machine translation and has not been edited yet. we apologise for any inaccuracies.

To what extent do M3 panel members agree healthcare workers strikes are the most effective means to address the major issues in healthcare and improve working conditions and employment terms? Learn what over 3400 healthcare professionals think about the ongoing healthcare workers strikes across Europe in the latest M3 Pulse results.

Since the end of last year, healthcare personnel across Europe have been going on healthcare workers strikes to highlight the pressing issues facing the healthcare sector. Staff shortages, mounting pressures, and declining well-being among healthcare professionals have led to compromised patient care, longer waiting times, and delays in treatments.

Healthcare workers dissatisfaction with their working conditions has grown more vocal in recent years. The COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbated the challenges, resulting in a significant increase in protests by healthcare workers globally. In the UK, nurses, ambulance workers, doctors, and other NHS staff have been going on strikes sporadically throughout 2023. Similar industrial actions have been taken place in Germany, Spain, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Austria, and Finland, among other countries, reflecting the deep-seated concerns of healthcare professionals.

The National Health Service (NHS) in the UK witnessed its largest national walkout ever, with tens of thousands of nurses and ambulance staff participating in healthcare workers strikes to address low wages and severe staffing shortages. Likewise, Belgium experienced strikes by healthcare workers demanding better wages, staff promotion, and training. Multiple strikes also occurred in France, where doctors called for increased consultation fees and improved organisational measures. Spanish healthcare workers demonstrated in Madrid, highlighting the need for increased investment and improved working conditions. In the Netherlands, healthcare workers went on a 24-hour strike at multiple hospitals across the country to support trade union demands for a 10% pay raise and improved working conditions. Similarly, in Bucharest, Romania, thousands of SANITAS trade union federation members protested in June, advocating for increased payment for the extra worked hours and extra shifts in hospitals and the implementation of a new salary law, among other demands.

With ongoing resource management issues and undervalued staff, the healthcare crisis has manifested in numerous ways globally. These strikes serve as a reflection of the soaring challenges healthcare professionals face, as they demand fair pay, improved working conditions, and increased investment in healthcare services. While healthcare workers strike aims to draw attention to these issues, achieving a balance between patient safety, the potential gains of industrial actions, and ensuring the well-being of both healthcare workers and patients remains a complex task.

healthcare workers strikes

M3 Pulse Results: Opinions on the Healthcare Workers Strikes

In light of the ongoing discussions and industrial actions in the healthcare industry, we asked M3 panel members to share their opinions on the effectiveness of healthcare workers strike as a means to achieve better working conditions and employment terms.

During May, 3429 healthcare professionals across Europe and USA were asked: “To what extent do you agree that industrial action is the best way for healthcare professionals to force better working conditions and employment terms?”

The M3 pulse results revealed a range of perspectives among our M3 panel members. The largest percentage, 28%, expressed support for healthcare workers strikes as long as all parties involved maintain ethical approaches and ensure the delivery of healthcare services is not impacted. 24% of respondents believe that doctors, like any other professionals, have the right to take industrial action to address workplace grievances.

18% of respondents justified the healthcare workers strike by highlighting the long-term improvement in healthcare services despite the short-term suffering caused by strikes, while 16% viewed industrial action as the best way to maintain balance in a functioning healthcare system, benefiting healthcare workers, governments, and society collectively.

A smaller percentage, 7%, disagreed with the effectiveness of strikes, citing concerns about direct harm to patients and potential negative consequences such as grief, distress, or even death resulting from industrial action. Only 5% of respondents believed going on strike is never the best solution, emphasising that physicians have voluntarily committed to caring for those they serve and prioritising the social good when they enter the medical profession. 2% of respondents provided other viewpoints regarding the question.

Do you agree with them? Share your views in the comment section below.

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M3 Pulse is a one-question online survey we conduct every month with our M3 panel members. It´s a fun and easy way to share your opinions about trending healthcare topics with a global community of healthcare professionals. If you want to participate in this month´s M3 Pulse, register and join the M3 panel today.

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Healthcare Workers Strike: Actions and Outcomes

In March 2023, the World Health Organisation (WHO) highlighted the precarious situation faced by healthcare systems across Europe, emphasising the urgent need for action to address workforce shortages and burnout. Various organisations voiced their support for striking healthcare workers, urging governments to prioritise healthcare funding and ensure fair working conditions.

Dr. Hans Henri P. Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe stated:

“The health workforce crisis in Europe is no longer a looming threat – it is here and now. Health providers and workers across our region are clamouring for help and support. The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the fragility of health systems and the importance of a robust and resilient health workforce. We cannot wait any longer to address the pressing challenges facing our health workforce. The health and well-being of our societies are at stake – there is simply no time to lose.”

A regional report published by WHO/Europe in September last year warned of an impending crisis in health systems across Europe and Central Asia due to an aging health workforce, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many countries face challenges in sustaining their healthcare workforce, with a significant number of doctors aged 55 or older. National health systems struggle to meet rising demand, worsened by service backlogs and resource shortages. The pandemic has caused stress, burnout, and high attrition rates among healthcare workers. It was reported that 9 out of 10 nurses had declared their intention to quit their job.

In response to these challenges, the Bucharest Declaration recognises the importance of collaboration with all stakeholders involved, and calls for political action to address several areas:

  • Improve the recruitment and retention of health and care workers
  • Improve health workforce supply mechanisms
  • Optimise the performance of the health and care workforce
  • Better plan the health and care workforce
  • Increase public investment in workforce education, development, and protection

The ongoing healthcare workers strike shed light on the systemic challenges faced by healthcare systems and the need for urgent reforms. Negotiations between unions, healthcare officials, and the government have taken place, but a resolution has not been reached, prolonging the disruptions to healthcare services. While some unions in Scotland accepted pay increase offers, others rejected them, emphasising the necessity for further negotiations. The outcomes of these strikes have the potential to shape the future of healthcare in Europe and beyond, ensuring the well-being of both healthcare professionals and patients.

What do you think of healthcare workers strikes? Is this type of industrial action an effective way to drive change in the healthcare industry and improve working conditions and employment terms? Share your opinion in the comment section below and join the conversation on LinkedIn or Instagram.

Your opinions and experiences as a healthcare professional hold value. Earn compensation for sharing your medical knowledge by participating in paid healthcare market research studies with M3 Global Research. Sign up for free today and make your voice heard.

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You May Also Like to Read About Healthcare Professionals' Views and Opinions on:


  1. I support union and other collective actions by healthcare workers to obtain fair pay and safe working conditions. Patients benefit from workers being treated well by their employers.

  2. Someone once said “imagine being in a profession that care for others but no one cares about us”

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