Doctors calling for better work conditions go on strike today.

The strike has caused the postponements of 100 elective surgeries and 549 outpatients appointments at Tauranga and Whakatāne hospitals. About 650 people in the Bay of Plenty District Health Board area are expected to be affected.

Today's strike begins at 7am and will continue until 7am on Thursday. It comes following negotiations between the New Zealand Resident Doctor's Association and district health boards failing last week. Another strike is expected later this month.

Dr Nicolas Thorburn has been working at Tauranga Hospital since November 2016 and said the strikes were not about money but workers' rights. Doctors wanted to retain clauses that protected them as workers, he said.

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Dr Nicolas Thorburn, who works at Tauranga Hospital, is among doctors striking today. Photo / Andrew Warner
Dr Nicolas Thorburn, who works at Tauranga Hospital, is among doctors striking today. Photo / Andrew Warner

There are 192 junior doctors employed by the Bay of Plenty District Health Board but how many were striking from today, and what they were doing, remained unclear.

Bay of Plenty District Health Board's contingency planning lead Neil McKelvie said emergency and essential services would be maintained during the strike but operations and appointments that could be postponed were and patients should have already been contacted about this.

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation yesterday came out in support of the doctors, citing concern at staff reductions and roster changes.

Industrial advisor Lesley Harry said she hoped the district health boards would listen to the doctors' concerns and settle the dispute in an acceptable manner.

"This is ultimately about the wellbeing of everyone in New Zealand so we support the NZRDA [New Zealand Resident Doctors' Association] in putting patient safety first."