Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Nurses strike in Sweden

Currently, Swedish nurses are in the third week of a strike. This means at minimum delays and inconvenience for patients. Accident and emergency departments at the major hospitals in Stockholm close for a day each, meaning delays for patients without prior appointments. The first accident department to close in Stockholm was at St Goran's hospital, Sweden's fourth largest emergency hospital according to this article.

The first members of the Association of Health Professionals (Vårdförbundet) walked off the job April 21 after their demands for higher pay were not met. This Swedish newspaper article points out that Swedish newspaper editorials have devoted much time to analyzing this strike, and states that nurses' have had a better wage growth over the last 10 to 15 years than most other public sector employees at the county-level.

These strikes are not unusual in countries with government-run medical care. According to this article, Denmark is in the middle of a health care workers' strike, and Finland nurses threatened a similar action last year. In Denmark, around 65,000 nurses, midwives and laboratory assistants remain on strike, while retirement home workers and preschool workers have ended their strike. This strike over wages has led to some 40,000 canceled operations as of its second week, and is expected to be long-lasting.