Swedish nurses strike to win better healthcare for all

In a historic move, PSI affiliate the Swedish Association of Health Care Professionals, Vårdförbundet, has led a strike, the first in over 15 years. Their aim? To combat the deteriorating conditions in the healthcare sector and to advocate for a better system for everyone.

These healthcare professionals, who were hailed as heroes during the pandemic, now find themselves worse off just a few years later. They face a significant reduction in skilled colleagues, impossible schedules, and brutal budget cuts. The system currently relies on their overtime work and dedication to patient care - but is now at a breaking point.

Healthcare workers are proud of their profession. They are trained and licensed to care for patients, alleviate suffering, and save lives. However, the current conditions are preventing them from providing the level of care that patients are entitled to.

In late 2023, over 150 Vårdförbundet members took part in PSI's global survey on Health and Care Workforce attitudes. The overwhelming majority said their workplace did not have a policy in place to ensure enough staff to provide safe care for all patients.

Healthcare Worker Attitudes

Results from Swedish Participants in PSI's Global Survey

70 %

say under-staffing has led to situations where patients experienced unnecessary pain

87 %

face increasing pressure to complete more tasks

76 %

believe public investment in universal healthcare is needed over market solutions

Responding to the survey, WHO Director General of the WHO Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “Health and care workers protect us day in and day out. We owe them our gratitude and duty of care.”  

Many healthcare workers find themselves working six out of seven days a week. Almost 30% of Vårdförbundet members have chosen to reduce their working hours, often to rest and recover.

This high-pressure environment has serious consequences for staff and for patients and makes the sector unattractive for employment in a time when new staff are desperately needed.

Nina Bergamn International Secrertary, Vårdförbundet

40% of our young nurses say they are thinking of leaving the profession. Our society needs them.

This is why Vårdförbundet members have chosen to strike: to underline the urgency of the situation and make their demands heard.

This historic strike is not just about improving working conditions for healthcare workers. It's about safeguarding the future of the healthcare system, ensuring patient safety, and securing the right to quality healthcare for everyone.

Employers in Sweden and around the world must listen to the voices of healthcare workers, and the words of WHO

Show your solidarity with Sweden's health workforce: take a photo with the card below and post to social media tagging @Vårdförbundet