Bay of Plenty resident doctors will be among more than 3000 around the country who will walk off the job for 48 hours, starting October 18.

The action comes after numerous failed talks with district health boards over work hours and days.

New Zealand Resident Doctors Association (NZRDA) national secretary Dr Deborah Powell said more than 3200 doctors out of 3500 resident doctors would take strike action - so it would impact services.

"We're doing this because we want to be able to treat our patients without making mistakes and treat them as they should be treated, so sorry there will be disruption to patients but we are doing this as much for them as for ourselves."

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A media statement prepared on behalf of the country's 20 district health boards in response to the strike announcement said they were disappointed mediation aimed at averting a strike had failed to deliver a settlement.

"The DHBs tabled a formal offer yesterday, which if agreed to, would lead to New Zealand doctors having some of the best hours of work in the world," the DHBs' national workforce and employment relations programme chief executive Julie Patterson said in the statement.

"We have agreed to split night shifts that the union report cause fatigue. We have given an assurance that the maximum number of days worked in a row will be reduced to 10 days and we have provided a framework to fast-track the changes required.

"Despite the DHBs' offer, the union has maintained its position of expecting DHBs to pay the RMOs for the days off that will result from the roster changes. We hope the union will at least let the resident medical officers (RMOs) discuss the DHB offer, before putting the public of New Zealand through the disruption of industrial action."

Mrs Patterson said the DHBs would now turn their attention to planning for the strike.
"The DHBs' planning for any industrial action is well advanced. The public will be advised individually if there is any disruption to planned services."

Dr Powell said the assertion her members expected paid days off from the roster changes was "a fairly significant misrepresentation of what's going on".

Last month the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend reported gruelling rosters were putting patient safety at risk - with some working 12 days straight and up to 16 hours a day.

At the time, house officer and NZRDA Bay of Plenty delegate Dr Ash Ellis said patients were often "surprised and shocked" by the hours doctors were expected to work.

In two of the seven rosters at Tauranga Hospital, resident doctors worked up to 12 days in a row, which included some 16-hour day shifts and up to seven consecutive 10-hour night shifts.

He said patient safety could be compromised when doctors were fatigued.