DHB junior doctors plan second two-day strike
Junior doctors employed by district health boards have announced they will strike for a second two-day period this month.
The NZ Resident Doctors’ Association (NZRA) released plans yesterday afternoon to strike between January 29 and 30.
It comes a day after the group confirmed that a 48-hour period strike would take place next week starting at 7am on Tuesday until 7am on Thursday; after mediation with DHBs failed to come up with anything they agreed on.
The association claims DHBs are pursuing claw backs in terms and provisions of the MultiEmployer Collective Agreement.
NZRA said the DHB team’s claw backs would remove the protection of the union and expose vulnerable junior doctors to disruptive and dangerous work conditions.
The association’s senior advocate, David Munro, said: “The [residential medical officers] are more determined than ever not to accept claw backs to their terms and conditions.
“This vote for a second strike testifies to their resolve. The RMOs are clearly not going to be backing down.”
NZRA president, Dr Courtney Brown, said the DHB group’s position meant junior doctors could be moved to any hospital in the country as district health boards see fit.
“RMOs could be required to work for more than 16 hours in a row — without guarantee of rest or safety,” she said. “RMOs could lose access to education and training, jeopardising the quality of care we are able to deliver to our patients and a whole lot more.”
Hospitals and medical clinics — and patients, as a result — will be affected some way or another because of the strikes. Contingency plans will be put in place to help things run smoothly.
However, hospitals are urging people to keep emergency departments free for genuine emergencies and go to a GP or an accident and medical clinic if injuries or illnesses are less serious.
The Auckland DHB will continue to provide emergency and life-preserving services on the planned strike days, a spokeswoman said.
“This includes all acute services and those services defined as lifepreserving [eg: cancer treatments]. Our message to the public is if you need our care, we are here.”
Non-urgent and non-acute services, however, are being rescheduled. Those patients due for an appointment or surgery and who have not been contacted are being told to attend their appointments as scheduled.
Waitemata¯ DHB director of hospital services Cath Cronin reassured patients that they would be providing safe and high-quality care to both inpatients and emergency patients over these strike periods.
“The number of staff participating in the strike is yet to be confirmed, but our planning covers all scenarios,” she said.
“Some patient procedures and appointments may need to be rescheduled. If patients have not heard from us, they should present to have their procedure or attend their appointment.”
Further south, the Counties Manukau DHB says a large number of its health services were unaffected.
Health chief medical officer Dr Gloria Johnson said the strikes inevitably meant that some nonurgent patient appointments and elective surgery may need to be rescheduled and would be contacting those people affected.
“We apologise to our community who have been impacted by this industrial action. It is an unfortunate and unavoidable consequence of the strike action undertaken by those of our staff who are members of the NZ Resident Doctors Association.”