Rotorua Daily Post health and business reporter

Junior doctors call off strike due to earthquake difficulties

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Rotorua Hospital. PHOTO/FILE
Rotorua Hospital. PHOTO/FILE

Resident doctors have called off a planned strike next week, due to the earthquake.

Strike notices issued to the 20 district health boards - including the Lakes District Health Board - have been withdrawn because of the earthquake and associated difficulties.

Doctors at hospitals throughout the country, including Rotorua Hospital, were due to walk off the job at 7am next Tuesday for 48 hours.

The New Zealand Resident Doctors' Association (NZRDA) national secretary Dr Deborah Powell said they did not want to add to an already stressful situation.

News the strike was being called off came as figures released to the Rotorua Daily Post under the Official Information Act showed senior doctors were paid as much as $500 an hour while covering extra hours during the last strike on October 18 and 19.

The rate doctors were paid for working extra hours during the strike was between $180 to $500 per hour - depending on the type of work.

This was within the band of payment agreed nationally.

During October's strike, 309 outpatient clinic appointments had to be postponed by Lakes DHB.

In addition, 52 patients had their surgical procedures postponed.

The figures, which were released today , also showed 79 per cent of patients affected by the October strike received their procedure by the end of October.

The remaining 21 per cent were scheduled to receive their procedure on or before mid November, chief executive Ron Dunham said.

The average waiting time to be seen by a doctor in the emergency department during the strike was shorter than at normal times, he said

On the first day patients at Rotorua Hospital's emergency department were seen by a doctor within 25 minutes, and on the second day it was 27 minutes. The average wait time so far this year has been 62 minutes, according to the figures.

Mr Dunham said no additional staff were brought in to cover with existing staff working extra hours.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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