The New Zealand Resident Doctors’ Association has been locked in a bitter, year-long dispute with district 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 on Tuesday, with a second strike on the cards two weeks later.
MidCentral District Health Board acting chief medical officer of health Jeff Brown said management and senior doctors had held daily planning meetings since the strikes were announced to keep the hospital running as smoothly as possible, but services such as elective surgery would be affected.
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Brown said emergencies and patients in critical condition were the top priority. So, over the past few weeks, the board’s management carefully reviewed the hospital’s ability to perform surgeries during the strikes.
“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 closely examined to ensure as many staff as possible were available to cover the emergency department and all the inpatient wards, including people in post-operation care.
Patients whose appointments are affected by the strikes are being contacted to arrange new times. Patients who aren’t contacted should go into 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.