Ros­ter­ing big is­sue for strik­ing ju­nior doc­tors

The Press - - News - Kata­rina Wil­liams

Ju­nior doc­tors are walk­ing off the wards to pre­serve a num­ber of pro­tec­tions they say are un­der threat.

The doc­tors, known as res­i­dent med­i­cal of­fi­cers (RMOs), will em­bark on the first of two 48-hour strikes from 7am to­day as ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween dis­trict health boards and the largest ju­nior doc­tors’ union, the New Zealand Res­i­dent Doc­tors’ As­so­ci­a­tion (RDA), fal­ter.

As a re­sult, scores of nonessen­tial ap­point­ments, pro­ce­dures and clin­ics have been post­poned across the coun­try, how­ever life-pre­serv­ing care and emer­gency treat­ment will not be af­fected.

Hutt Hospi­tal se­nior house of­fi­cer Dr Will Black­burne said that while the de­ci­sion to strike was not taken lightly, doc­tors felt they had to draw a line in the sand.

‘‘We are still work­ing 10 days in a row with at least a cou­ple of 16-hour days within that 10-day pe­riod and that’s what we agreed to as a safer al­ter­na­tive to the pre­vi­ous ros­ter­ing sys­tem.

‘‘The DHBs still aren’t very happy with that.

‘‘They would pre­fer us to go back to work­ing 12 days in a row but we think it’s cer­tainly safer for us and for our pa­tients to work in the cur­rent sys­tem.’’

DHB spokesman Dr Peter Bram­ley said the cur­rent ros­ter­ing sys­tem did not of­fer flex­i­bil­ity and the ‘‘one-size-fit­sall’’ ap­proach adopted in 2016 did not suit all hos­pi­tals.

It had cre­ated a num­ber of ‘‘un­in­tended con­se­quences’’ in­clud­ing staffing dif­fi­cul­ties and chal­lenges in max­imis­ing RMO train­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties.

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