A framework for assessing the ethics of doctors' strikes

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Abstract

The first aim of this article is to offer a framework for constructive and rigorous discussions of the ethics of doctors' strikes, beginning with an in-principle distinction between the questions of how one should conduct oneself while working as a doctor and when and how one can suspend that work. The second is to explore how that framework applies to the contemporary British case of strikes by English junior doctors, with my suggestion being that those strikes do meet all of the criteria proposed. In closing, I gesture towards a further ethical dimension to strikes which is too often overlooked: namely, the responsibilities of employers and others not to misrepresent or demonise those doctors who are engaged in or considering taking industrial action.

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