83 Hospitals, 32 short stay clinics and 4 rehabilitation clinicswere closed for patients last Wednesday 20th November. More than 150.000 employees were working a 'Sunday' shift (a little bit less than 1% of all Dutch residents works in health care), and nearly all elective surgeries and treatmeants countrywide were cancelled. Ofcourse emergency treatments never stopped as well as treatments on kids and radiation/chemo therapie schedules were not interrupted.
All Dutch hospitals (except for the acedemic ones) were on strike!
So what is the problem then actually? What does the staff want? And here we go into a bit of details. In general, when a group of workers (in whatever field) wants something they have representatives who talk with the unions about the working conditions (working hours, salary, mandatory rest hours after nightshifts). The representatives then bring these results to the politicians who try to negotiate a better CAO (collectieve arbeidsomstandigheden or better said the collective organised working conditions) and then the politicians try to budget this in for next year in the general money quote.
So what the healthcare staff is striking for is higher salaries over the next 3 years (5% every year, which seems a lot but the last couple of years they were left out in the inflation corrections so this seems valid), better resting hours between night and days shifts (now this is 6 hours at minimum and 6 isn't so much) and a compensation when they have to take over someones shift because of illness within 24 hours.### And that last one is a major one, because with the increasing working pressure in health care with lesser and lesser staff around, burn outs always being right around the corner, this is also an increasing problem putting even more pressure on the remaining staff. The vicious circle of staff getting too much on their plate
Because that is what is a big difference between healthcare and other professions. When you are sick or half sick, you will not easily take a step back. Because you never want your patients to be the victim of the shortcoming of the hospital which is this case isn't providing enough staff. Hospital staff never wants the patients to be the victim and that is exactly what makes it so dangerous. Everyone drains themselves out, untill at some point a mistake of fatigue will be made.
Working in healthcare isn't attractive at the moment, it isn't sexy. When you go around asking in schools what people want to do when they grow up, you will not hear the answer of being a nurse that often anymore. You will hear stuff like influencer, lawyer, or doctor, but nobody wants to be the good ol'nursie. It doesn't have enough career perspective and the money also isn't so flashy.### And I don't blame them! Even though I love my profession it sometimes is hard to explain to people that you can not make it to their party because you are working on Saturdaynight. It isn't easy to explain that having your patients die on you is also part of the job, it isn't easy to explain that if a patient craps over you and slinging a shot of vomit afterwards is also part of the job. It isn't easy when your friends are growing higher up the careerladder and you remain a nurse where the max salary for the rest of your life is already reached at age of 33. Try selling that to people who are considering working in these professions?
Nobody like it when a group of professionals is striking. But the funny thing is that even the patients who had their surgery postponed have a certain degree and understanding for it. Because everybody loves nurses, everbody realizes that one day we all will be dependent on them, but nobody wants to be one. And that is what this strike hopefully might change.### That working in healthcare will get more attractive to the outsiders, and we hopefully will have more people working with us over the next couple of years. Because the profession is beautiful. Working in teams, working towards a goal, and working into fixing people. It is a lot more forefilling than any office job will ever be.