Elective surgeries cut back during junior doctors strike
Palmerston North Hospital surgeons are keeping nonemergency surgeries to a minimum to reduce pressure on services as junior doctors strike.
The New Zealand Resident Doctors’ Association has been locked in a year-long dispute with district health boards over the terms of the resident doctors’ collective employment agreement. Two days of mediated bargaining hit a wall on Thursday, meaning at least 2000 doctors across the country will go on a 48-hour strike at 7am today, with a second strike two weeks later.
Midcentral District Health Board acting chief medical officer of health Jeff Brown said there had been daily planning meetings to keep things running as smoothly as possible, but services such as elective surgery would be affected. Emergencies and patients in critical condition were the top priority, he said.
‘‘We have subsequently agreed to perform some elective surgery cases [during the strikes], but only when they do not impact on our ability to deliver care safely.’’
Outpatient services were also examined to ensure as many staff as possible were available to cover the emergency department and inpatient wards, including people in post-operation care.
Patients whose appointments are affected by the strikes are being contacted to arrange new times. Those not contacted should go to the hospital as normal for their appointment or surgery.
Despite the disruption to patient services, the New Zealand Nurses’ Organisation is expressing solidarity with the striking doctors.
Nurses Organisation industrial advisor Lesley Harry said health boards were insisting on a worse deal than the previous collective agreement.