The NZ Resident Doctors Association (NZRDA) have advised that resident doctors will be taking strike action for five days, from Monday 29 April until Friday 3 May 2019. This will be the fourth NZRDA strike since 15 January 2019.
We estimate that around 140 Northland DHB patients will have their outpatient appointments moved because of this strike, and a further 25-30 will have their elective surgery 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. This has put huge pressure on many of our clinical and administrative staff although our patients miss out the most. With this latest week-long strike, in the past six months Northland DHB will have had 20 days of strike action where outpatient and planned surgery has had to be cancelled or postponed. Realistically with our shortage of new Operating Theatres (two new ‘theatres’ will be built and opened in 2020) and limited private surgical capacity, this adds a month to our waiting times.”
This strike particularly impacts on Whangarei Hospital. Our senior doctors and locums will be covering shifts during the strike period and not all resident doctors (also called Resident Medical Officers (RMOs), Doctors in Training or Junior Doctors) employed by Northland DHB are striking.
“We have 130 Resident Doctors working at Whangarei Hospital and more than half of them are not striking, and they have chosen to come to work which is extremely helpful and something we are grateful for," Dr Chamberlain said.
"Northland DHB have had good rosters for over ten years with our first year doctors working a maximum of ten days on, four days off; we comply with all our contractual obligations, and each year we are recognised in surveys by resident doctors as one of the best DHBs in the country for looking after them, and one of the best places to work. We encourage our staff to take care of themselves, and we certainly don’t expect them to work under fatigue. I know that this desire genuinely exists among DHBs throughout NZ.”
Whangarei hospital services will have reduced staffing levels. If you live in rural Northland and can be transferred to your home hospital from Whangarei, we will aim to do this to reduce 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 who give FREE health advice 24 hours a day.
Dr Chamberlain also adds that Northland DHB does not wish to discourage anyone who has significant concern for their health from seeking help, but patients need to understand that our services are under even greater pressure than normal; there may be long waits; and if your GP, White Cross After Hours service or Pharmacy can deal with your problem, then please avoid Whangarei Hospital Emergency department.
"Delaying acute care can have serious consequences, so please remember, always in an emergency call 111."