Eighty radiographers throughout the Bay of Plenty region yesterday walked off the job in hopes of achieving better pay and changes to staffing numbers. Reporter Jean Bell checks in after the first of two walkouts this week.
Nearly 300 patients missed out on radiology services at Tauranga and Whakatāne hospitals when all but one radiographer went on strike yesterday.
The 24-hour strike started at 7am and, according to the radiographer's union, saw 53 staff at Tauranga and Whakatāne hospitals walk off the job in protest of staff shortages and pay.
The action is the first of two strikes this week, with a second 24-hour strike set to start tomorrow at 7am.
The local walkouts joined more than 1000 radiographers striking around the country this week following nearly nine months of failed negotiations between Apex union and DHBs.
Radiographer at Tauranga Hospital and Apex union representative Geraint Davies was among those on strike due to workforce issues.
He said a recent Saturday shift saw him arrive home 17-and-a-half hours after he started work.
The shift usually ran from 8am to 4.30pm, then he would be on-call until 8am on Sunday.
However, that day he said he did not leave the hospital until 9pm and at 10.30pm he received a call to go back to the emergency department.
He said he did not arrive back home until 1.30am.
'Our hospitals are not safe places to work': Staff assaulted
Rags to riches: From poorest home in poorest street to $180m sale
Despite the long hours and the impact the job had on his home life and sleep schedule, he has never thought about changing careers.
"It's a rewarding job that can give you a sense of purpose and the belief that you can make a difference to someone who needs medical intervention and treatment."
Bay of Plenty District Health Board acting business leader for surgical, anaesthesia and radiology services, Dorothy McKeown, said DHB acknowledged the increased demand for weekend work and the team would be consulted on changes to weekend rosters.
For each day of striking, she said about 215 radiology patients at Tauranga Hospital and 61 patients at Whakatāne Hospital would be affected.
Fifty-one outpatient appointments and nine theatre cases were impacted across both hospitals, she said.
She said the DHB employed 37 radiographers in Tauranga and had no vacancies, while 10 radiographers were employed in Whakatāne with 1.7 full-time-equivalent positions which had new employees set to start in the next few months.
Meanwhile, Apex national secretary Deborah Powell said 53 radiographers employed by the DHB who were union members took part in the strike.
The Bay of Plenty Times sought to clarify the difference between the DHB and the union's number of radiographers employed and on strike but a response was not received before publication.
- There will be two strikes by staff at Tauranga and Whakatāne hospitals this week.
- The second strike will run from 7am on Wednesday to 7am on Thursday. The first strike happened yesterday
- The staff on strike include those who usually perform x-rays, CT scans and assist with a number of radiology procedures, for example insertion of pacemakers in the cardiac catheter lab and other interventional procedures.
Source: Bay of Plenty District Health Board