Talks fail: doctors' strike set to go ahead

Hundreds of southerners face having hospital operations and procedures postponed after the failure of talks yesterday which hoped to settle the resident doctors' planned strike.

Barring a last-minute resolution, more than 3300 members of the Resident Doctors Association will walk off the job nationwide at 7am on January 15, and will strike for 48 hours.

Some district health boards, 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 their procedures have been postponed.

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.

Non-urgent, planned surgeries and some outpatient appointments would be postponed and rescheduled as a result of the strike action, SDHB chief executive Chris Fleming said.

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

"Hospitals will remain open during the strike and will continue to provide essential and urgent services including emergency departments, acute surgery, intensive care, cancer treatments, maternity services, renal dialysis, and wards, at reduced capacity."

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

RDA president Courtney 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."

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