Why Do Patients Stop Dying When Doctors Go on Strike?

Last year, British doctors went on strike for the first time since 1975 over proposed changes in their contracts. So, what happens when doctors strike? One of the more interesting things that happens is that the mortality rate drops. A recent study of the medical impact of doctor strikes included groups of doctors who went on strike for between 9 days and 17 weeks. Researchers found that not a single group showed that death rates increased during the weeks of the strikes. The study suggests that this is due to the fact that elective and non-emergency surgery tends to stop during a doctors’ strike, and a surprising amount of mortality occurs following this kind of surgery. As soon as elective surgery resumed, there was a rise in deaths. However, when nurses go on strike, mortality increases. So, it would seem that the public should worry much more about nurses going on strike than doctors.