DHBs are urging resident medical officers to withdraw planned strike action and let the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) do its job.
RMOs who are members of the NZ Resident Doctor’s Association plan to strike for five days next week but DHB Spokesman Dr Peter Bramley says that will disrupt patient services unnecessarily now the ERA has set dates for facilitation.
“It was the NZRDA that asked for facilitation, that’s now been agreed and dates set. DHBs welcome the ERA’s involvement as a way to settle this dispute – there is nothing to be gained from a strike.
“Facilitation involves independent experts looking at both sides of the issue and making an impartial recommendation for settlement. The strike will have no impact or bearing on the facilitation, all it does is disrupt patients.”
Dr Bramley says the impact will vary from DHB to DHB, but there will be more impact than the last strikes due to the longer duration.
“Some DHBs have not scheduled procedures next week to avoid inconveniencing patients, although services are being scheduled where staff are available and RMOs have indicated they’ll be working.
“DHBs have contingency plans in place to ensure essential and emergency services are maintained, however some planned and elective services will be deferred and DHBs will contact those affected.
“To minimise pressure on hospitals, people should see their GP in the first instance, but no one should delay seeking medical treatment and go to hospital if the matter is urgent,” says Dr Bramley. “They should dial 111 for emergencies or an ambulance.
“I urge RMOs to reconsider striking – they asked for independent facilitation and we now have a mechanism to help us find a solution. If the RDA is looking for a pathway to settlement, then this is it and strike action is not necessary.”
The following dates have been agreed for facilitation:
3 May Both parties to file a written submission setting out the context and the outstanding issues
9 May Auckland (individual meetings with each party)
10 May Auckland
13 May Wellington
14 May Wellington
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This is the fourth strike action taken by the NZ Resident Doctors Association (NZRDA).
It is estimated that around 140 Northland DHB patients will have their outpatient appointments impacted by the fourth RMO strike and based on current planning a further 25-30 patients will require their elective surgery to be rescheduled. All patients affected have been contacted individually.
"Patient safety is always our number one priority and we have undertaken extensive contingency planning to ensure patients are safe during this strike period," offered chief executive Dr Nick Chamberlain. “We are also carefully considering the on-going impacts for both patients and staff, given the number of strikes they have endured this year."
Senior Doctors and Locums will be covering shifts during the strike period and not all Junior Doctors employed by Northland DHB were striking.
“Nearly half of our RMO workforce are not striking, with many of our Junior Doctors choosing to come to work which is extremely helpful and something we are grateful for," Dr Chamberlain said.
"Northland DHB have had the 10:4 rosters (ten days on four days off) for over 10 years, and each year we are recognised in surveys by RMO's as one of the best DHB's in the country for looking after their RMO's in this regard. We encourage our staff to take care of themselves, and we certainly don’t expect them to work under fatigue."
Hospital services will have reduced staffing levels, and this coupled with the Easter holiday will increase the load on our teams.
If you have visitors coming for the Easter break remind them to bring their medication and if they unwell encourage them to visit another time when they are well. If you live in rural Northland and can be transferred to your home hospital from Whangarei, we will aim to do this to elevate extra pressure on Whangarei Hospital.
Those with minor injuries or ailments are encouraged to speak to your GP, local pharmacist or call Healthline on 0800 611 116. Healthline calls are answered by Registered Nurses and is FREE health advice 24 hours a day.
Dr Chamberlain also adds that Northland DHB do not wish to discourage anyone who has significant concern for their health from seeking help.
"Delaying acute care can have serious consequences, so please remember, always in an emergency call 111."
If you need us, we are here.
We do not wish to discourage anyone who has significant concern for their health delaying acute care – doing so can have serious consequences.
For health advice over the phone, call Healthline on 0800 611 116. Your call will be answered by a Registered Nurse and is a FREE service available 24 hours a day.