Anna is a reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

Almost 100 Tauranga hospital doctors to strike

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One hundred Tauranga resident doctors will strike after failed negotiations with district health boards over rosters and hours.
One hundred Tauranga resident doctors will strike after failed negotiations with district health boards over rosters and hours.

One hundred Tauranga resident doctors will drop their stethoscopes to strike after failed negotiations with district health boards over rosters and hours.

Twenty district health boards across the country will be affected by the strike, including the Bay of Plenty DHB.

It will begin at 7am on October 18 and finish at 7am on October 20, lasting 48 hours.

Of the 145 resident doctors in Tauranga, about 100 would be walking off the job, according to a New Zealand Resident Doctors' Association (NZRDA) spokesperson.

"It is very disappointing that it has come to this point in order for resident doctors to have safer rosters or to work safely," she said.

She said the number of doctors striking would cause disruption in the hospital.

The NZRDA released a statement which read: "The doctors believe the risk of unsafe rosters to themselves and consequently their patients is too high to continue without definitive resolution, prompting consideration of strike action."

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

The NZRDA asked for the rosters to be no more than four nights in a row and to work no more than 10 days in a row with four days off.

However in a media release by the collective DHBs, national workforce and employment relations programme lead chief executive Julie Patterson said they had agreed to split the night shifts and "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."

Executive director Ian Powell of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS), which includes many senior doctors and salaried specialists, said they did not have a position on the strike but realised issues needed to be resolved because the rosters were causing "genuine fatigue to doctors".

He said there were provisions which required there to be life-preserving agreements to have a certain number of resident doctors working during the strike and expected more senior doctors would be picking up additional patients.

He said the hospitals would be operating like they did at the weekends.

Dr Powell said the ASMS were also in negotiations with the DHBs and were "under-whelmed" by their approach.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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