Doctors offered $200 an hour to break strike, union says

By Martin Johnston

Resident doctors are being offered up to $200 an hour for extra duties at Waikato District Health Board during next week's strike. Photo / File
Resident doctors are being offered up to $200 an hour for extra duties at Waikato District Health Board during next week's strike. Photo / File

The Waikato District Health Board is offering resident doctors up to $200 an hour to work during next week's strike, the doctors' union says.

"It is disappointing that Waikato DHB is prepared to pay a considerably higher rate of pay than normal in order to entice resident doctors to work and undermine the strike action," said Resident Doctors' Association national secretary Deborah Powell.

"It would appear the DHB mistakenly believes this will be sufficient encouragement for members to give up their desire to work safer rosters."

But the DHB's director of people and performance, Greg Peploe, said: "We firmly reject that we are paying individuals to break a strike or not to strike."

"Waikato DHB has a statutory and moral obligation to provide clinical services to the patients of the Waikato region."

"Where non-union RMOs [resident medical officers], or union members who feel they are unable to support the industrial action advocated by a minority of their colleagues, have agreed to work and undertake additional duties outside their normal rostered duties, then Waikato DHB will recompense those individuals.

"The specific rates vary and are considered cost-effective for the specific circumstances. The $200 per hour cited by the union is an outlier.

The planned strike will involve a complete withdrawal of labour by union members for 73 hours from 7am on Tuesday to 8am on Friday.

One chief executive has labelled the strike "hollow and futile".

Julie Patterson, lead chief executive for the DHBs' Employment Relations Programme and Whanganui DHB chief executive, said this strike, following a similar two day strike last October, "is hollow and futile considering the DHBs met the union's pay and roster demands in their original claim last year".

The strike will not influence the combined DHBs position, she said.

"The union is now wanting to play around at the margins and all this will do, is cause disruption for people in real need. Dr Powell has admitted a key outstanding issue is a matter of work-life balance preferences, not RMO health and safety."

Patterson said contingency planning for the strike at the 18 affected DHBs was progressing with LPS (Life Preserving Services) agreements with the union now in place to cover urgent cases.

"As a result of the two-day RMO strike in October, 1000 patients nationwide had their treatments affected. Next week's strike is for three days and we have staff that would normally offer cover, on leave. We are currently organising the rostering for the staff available amongst the non-striking junior doctors and senior medical officers. Sadly, patient services and elective surgery will be impacted by the strike.

"DHBs regret the further disruption that may occur to patient care next week. Any member of the public who will have a treatment disrupted or rescheduled, are being advised directly by their local DHB," said Patterson.

There was insufficient support for the strike action from NZRDA members at Taranaki and West Coast DHBs, so the strike action will not directly affect them.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf04 at 26 Mar 2017 22:15:32 Processing Time: 604ms