Around 40 of Whanganui's resident doctors may go on strike depending on the result of a vote by members of the New Zealand Resident Doctors Association.

The doctors want guarantees from the country's 20 district health boards around safer working conditions, specifically around the number of hours resident doctors are expected to work.

Deborah Powell, national secretary of the association, said doctors want "guaranteed change" to their rosters that is protected in their contracts.

She said while the DHBs had made offers such as offering to reduce night shifts from seven in a row to four in a row, and making a commitment to address doctors working 12 days in a row, the changes wouldn't happen for another two years.


"After 10 months of bargaining, the DHBs still have no contractually binding proposals to offer. The resident doctors are understandably frustrated with the lack of urgency being demonstrated by the DHBs, to resolve such an important issue affecting both themselves and their patients," said Dr Powell.

Dr Powell said association members recently took an indicative vote, which was "overwhelmingly" in favour of strike action.

"So now members are formally balloting on whether to strike, and we should know the results by Monday."

She said the terms of any strike would not be decided until the result of the ballot was known.

Resident doctors, or resident medical officers, are registered medical practitioners. They 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 DHBs.