Junior doctors back at work, more striking ahead

Junior doctors returned to work this morning after their second 48 hour nationwide strike in the past two weeks.

Their union, the Resident Doctors Association (RDA), said this morning that they were now balloting members for a fourth possible strike -- a third is already scheduled for February 12 and 13.

"The determination of Resident Doctors to get their Meca (multi-employer collective agreement) settled with key protections still in place is not wavering – if anything their resolve is strengthening,” RDA senior advocate David Munro said.

Southern District Health Board chief executive Chris Fleming yesterday said he could not be specific about the number of rescheduled, or not booked appointments due to the strike, but said it would be around 230, at both Dunedin and Southland hospitals.

"We tried to minimise the impact on patients, particularly those scheduled for surgery, but recognise that inevitably capacity is reduced during the strike period.''

Hospitals and emergency departments had remained open and coped well, Mr Fleming said.'

Mr Fleming had hoped more mediation talks would take place next week, but the RDA statement suggested that the parties were still some distance apart.

The doctor's main bone of contention with DHBs was a bid by their employers to remove the union's right to agreement on various issues.

Those included rotation to another employer outside the city boundaries, a combined period of "on call'' and "on duty'' exceeding 16 consecutive hours, and the right of the RDA to agree or disagree to an alternative roster pattern.

The DHBs argue they need to be able to be flexible in setting rosters.



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