In Practice

What should doctors and healthcare staff do when industrial action jeopardises the lives and health of patients?

D J McQuoid-Mason


During the recent strikes by healthcare personnel in North West Province, South Africa, patients were prevented from accessing emergency medical care and doctors and nurses were ejected from hospitals. Such conduct violates the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996, and is unlawful, as health services are ‘essential services’ in terms of the Labour Relations Act No. 66 of 1995. Doctors, nurses and other healthcare personnel who are prevented from assisting patients by striking colleagues should take active steps to secure access to healthcare services for patients requiring emergency medical care.

Author's affiliations

D J McQuoid-Mason, Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

Full Text

PDF (81KB)


Medical law; Healthcare strikes; Essential services; Preventive picketing; Duty to treat; Steps to enable treatment

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2018;108(8):634-635. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.2018.v108i8.13479

Article History

Date submitted: 2018-07-25
Date published: 2018-07-25

Article Views

Abstract views: 2258
Full text views: 1035

Comments on this article

*Read our policy for posting comments here