How ironic that in a profession dedicated to the health and wellbeing of others there are unhealthy and unsafe practices in working conditions.

Exhausted Bay of Plenty doctors say gruelling rosters put patient safety at risk - with some working 12 days straight and up to 16 hours a day, Anna Whyte reported in the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend.

The comments came amid an industrial dispute and after a recent survey by the Resident Doctors' Association found 1162 doctors had reported being so fatigued from working long hours they were worried they had made a clinical mistake.

Read more: Gruelling rosters are compromising patient safety, say exhausted Bay hospital doctors


The survey found 275 doctors had fallen asleep driving home after working those particular rosters.

It is astonishing that some doctors have to work in these conditions. Tired doctors could put patients lives at risk, and make poor decisions.

After working 16 hours a day for 12 days in a row, most people would struggle to even hold a conversation yet these doctors are expected to not only undertake complex procedures but are dealing with sick and vulnerable others. How could someone care for someone else when they are exhausted?

It is hard to see how these punishing rosters could be allowed particularly given the new stringent health and safety laws.

Julie Patterson, lead CEO for the 20 DHBs' Workforce and Employment Relations Programme said in a statement said New Zealand offered some of the best working hours in the world for doctors, but there was still a need, in some services, to reduce the hours they work.

"By the union's own admission the DHBs have thus far dealt with 80 of the 144 rosters where the union has raised as a concern.''

Mrs Patterson said DHBs were being asked to accept a premise that rostering RMOs for fewer days and out-of-hours work, without a corresponding reduction in pay, would somehow result in better public health services.

"DHBs will not accept this premise."

Nor is it acceptable for either doctors or their patients that doctors have to work in these punishing rosters and the DHBs should not be allowed to sidestep this issue.