Doctors set to strike after talks break down

SDHB patients affected by the strike will be contacted directly by phone, text or letter. Photo:...
SDHB patients affected by the strike will be contacted directly by phone, text or letter. Photo: ODT files

Talks between resident doctors and district health boards have broken down, meaning thousands of patients face having their operations postponed next week when doctors walk off the job.

Chris Fleming
Chris Fleming

The doctors - scheduled to strike for 48 hours on January 15-16 - agreed on Tuesday to meet DHBs for mediation, talks which concluded without agreement this afternoon.

Some DHBs, including Southern DHB, had put off postponing operations in the hope talks would succeed, but now face severe disruption to services, and a scramble to notify patients.

“It is disappointing and frustrating that we are being forced to strike just to keep our terms and conditions,” Courtney Brown, president of the NZ Resident Doctors Association, said.

"The DHB team persisted with clawbacks removing the protection of the union, exposing vulnerable RMOs to disruptive and dangerous work conditions.''

Two years ago the RDA secured a new contract to introduce "safe staffing'' levels to hospitals.

Dr Brown said the DHB's pay offer for the latest collective contract sought to wind back some of the conditions agreed earlier, something the union could not accept.

"It is disappointing and frustrating that we are being forced to strike just to keep our terms and conditions . . . Resident Medical Officers 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.”

SDHB patients affected by the strike will be contacted directly by phone, text or letter.

The strike will affect Wakari Hospital, Dunedin Hospital, Southland Hospital, Lakes District Hospital and all community based health services where NZRDA junior doctors employed by SDHB work.

“We sincerely regret having to defer any appointments and apologise to affected patients,'' SDHB chief executive Chris Fleming said.

"Staff will work to rebook patients as quickly as possible, but it will take time. ''

mike.houlahan@odt.co.nz

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