Disclaimer

This ethical hub topic shows how our professional standards can be applied and signposts to relevant resources. It does not set new professional standards and is not intended to replace the formal guidance. 

Our latest statement on ongoing industrial action can be found in the news section.

Industrial action 

Our position

Doctors are legally entitled to take part in lawful industrial action, including strike action. During strike action, doctors’ employers will have a vital role in planning and preparing for how patients will be cared for. They play an important part in maintaining the continuity of patient care to the highest possible standard.

We expect any doctors choosing to take part in strike action to continue to follow the principles of our guidance, Good medical practice. It highlights the importance of doctors working collaboratively with the healthcare team to keep patients safe, staying within the limits of their competence.

The following sections of Good medical practice are particularly relevant: 

Icon of a set of hands holding a tablet with text

2. You must recognise and work within the limits of your competence.

(Good medical practice, paragraph 2)

49. To develop and maintain effective teamworking and interpersonal relationships you must:

a listen to colleagues

b communicate clearly, politely and considerately

c recognise and show respect for colleagues’ skills and contributions

d work collaboratively with colleagues and be willing to lead or follow as the circumstances require.

65. Continuity of care is important for all patients, but especially those who may struggle to navigate their healthcare journey or advocate for themselves. Continuity is particularly important when care is shared between teams, between different members of the same
team, or when patients are transferred between care providers. 

a You must promptly share all relevant information about patients (including any reasonable adjustments and communication support preferences) with others involved
in their care, within and across teams, as required. 

b You must share information with patients5 about:

i. the progress of their care
a
ii. who is responsible for which aspect of their care

iii. the name of the lead clinician or team with overall responsibility for their care. 

c You must be confident that information necessary for ongoing care has been shared: 

i. before you go off duty 

ii. before you delegate care, or

iii. before you refer the patient to another health or social care provider.

d You must check, where practical, that a named clinician or team has taken over responsibility when your role in a patient’s care has ended.

(Good medical practice, paragraphs 49 and 65)

Doctors may be faced with challenging situations during strike action, whether or not they're participating directly. In both scenarios, doctors will need to use their professional judgement to assess risk and deliver the best possible care for people.

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