A nationwide 24-hour strike has ended for nurses in the Bay of Plenty this morning and staff at the region's hospitals have been praised for their response.
The New Zealand Nurses' Organisation strike ended at 7am.
Lakes District Health Board said things had gone "reasonably well" at the Rotorua and Taupō hospitals while Bay of Plenty District Health Board chief executive Helen Mason thanked staff at Tauranga and Whakatāne for handling a difficult situation well.
"Walking around the wards last night and this morning I was blown away by how everybody - volunteers, doctors, nurses, Allied Health, Te Pou Kokiri - all pulled together and worked to ensure the safety of our patients and of each other," Mason said.
"In what has been a challenging time people demonstrated exceptional teamwork and camaraderie and it was wonderful to see. I would like to say a huge thank you to them all."
She said a lot of people had worked very hard to provide care through the day and night.
"The fact hospitals have been able to provide the services they have is testament to that effort, which includes the contingency planning and preparation of the last three months."
Hospitals reported more staff and volunteers than planned, and occupancy levels were as expected.
"Importantly, from a patient safety perspective, the arrangements for life-preserving services worked as planned.
"I want to thank the New Zealand Nurses' Organisation members who made themselves available to work and provide life-preserving cover."
Mason also thanked the public for their understanding and patience during the strike.
Both Tauranga and Whakatāne hospitals' emergency departments experienced lower than usual numbers of attendances during the 24-hour period.
Lakes District Health Board incident controller Gary Lees said the hospitals' emergency departments were quiet overnight but the level of risk had been high.
He said while life preserving services responders all turned up for their shifts, volunteers and clinical helpers in the wards drawn from non-clinical roles also helped fill gaps
Lees said a key concern throughout the action was the lack of any real capacity to deal with any unexpected clinical issues.
"Everything in our planning was to ensure the safety of our patients and the smooth continuation of essential clinical services during the strike. Patient safety was and is always our priority."
Outpatient clinics and elective procedures will be held today, and with staff are gearing up for what could be a busy weekend, with lots of visitors in both Rotorua and Taupō with the school holidays.
The Lakes DHB was asking those with minor health issues not to go into the emergency department. Instead it asked them to visit a family doctor or community emergency clinics, or contact the telephone health service, Healthline on 0800 611 116.
Nationwide 24-hour strike
New Zealand Nurses' Organisation nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants were on strike from 7am on Thursday July 12 to 7am on Friday July 13.