Resident doctors are set to strike again, just weeks after they walked off the job throughout New Zealand to fight for safer working hours.
Yesterday, the Resident Doctors' Association announced they would strike again. This time, newly qualified doctors will join the strike. The 48-hour strike is expected to begin at 7am on November 23.
National secretary of the New Zealand Resident Doctors' Association Dr Deborah Powell said: ''Whilst we had hoped to get the new rosters agreed before another graduating class was exposed to the old unsafe system, that simply has not been possible.
"This bargaining has become so protracted it became inevitable if we didn't get settlement this week that this would be the outcome.
"However, our new colleagues have been following the issue closely and also voted overwhelmingly to take strike action.''
Dr Powell said although the district health boards had made an offer, it was seriously deficient in addressing the doctors' concerns and was full of non-committal language.
Dr Powell said a new offer put forward would result in a net pay cut of between $5000 and $7000.
Union Bay of Plenty delegate Dr Ash Ellis said at the time of last month's action that striking was not something his colleagues took lightly.
"No health professional ever wants to strike ... This is about trying to secure better patient safety for the future - we have robust processes to maintain patient care and safety in the hospital for the strike."
Dr Ellis was not available for comment yesterday. Speaking on Monday Bay of Plenty DHB chief executive for workforce and employments relations programme Julie Patterson said the DHB offered "world-leading hours and working conditions" for junior doctors.
She said the DHB's most recent offer gave the union what it asked for - a contractual guarantee that no RMO would work more than four nights or 10 days in a row. All rosters unacceptable to the union would be fixed.
"It completely addresses the union's health and safety claims," Ms Patterson said.
She said DHBs were perplexed as to why the unions were striking.
"The only outstanding issue between us is that the DHBs will not pay for days off the RMOs would enjoy as part of the revised rosters."
What are resident doctors?
Resident doctors (RMOs or Resident Medical Officers) are registered medical practitioners, and range in experience from first year qualified doctors to those with more than 12 years' experience. They primarily work in the public sector where they are employed by all 20 District Health Boards. Resident doctors staff New Zealand's public hospital system delivering 24/7 care to patients and also use this time to gain specialist qualifications as surgeons, physicians, paediatricians, etc. Resident doctors are also employed in general practice as GP trainees; however these doctors are not involved in this dispute because they are not DHB employees.