Up to 200 non life-threatening medical appointments are affected at public hospitals around Northland each day radiographers are on strike.
About 40 radiographers employed by the Northland District Health Board at Whangārei, Bay of Islands, Kaitaia and Dargaville hospitals went on a 24-hour strike on Monday and a similar industrial action is planned for today.
They are members of the Allied Scientific and Technical Union (APEX) and voted on the strike action after nine months of employment agreement negotiations failed to secure a settlement.
APEX said excellent progress was made towards reaching a settlement until June and negotiations have not gone well since.
The radiographers said relentless growth in demand for radiology services has outstripped the capacity of the existing DHB workforce to deliver them, resulting in serious recruitment and retention issues in multiple areas.
Northland DHB has been given notice of several impending strikes involving psychologists, radiographers and laboratory staff and has put together contingency plans to minimise disruptions.
Chief operating officer Paul Welford said strikes by radiographers would affect x-rays, CT and MRI only.
An estimated 70 per cent of laboratory staff and 75 per cent of psychologists are APEX members.
Welford said potentially 15 planned MRI appointments, 30 to 35 planned CT and 150 planned x-ray appointments each day were affected.
"As we received advanced notice of the action, the majority of these patients will be rebooked within two weeks if not already done so."
He said the impact of the industrial action would be that images for unplanned but non-life threatening conditions would either be delayed for 24 hours or be sent to TRG Imaging at no cost to patients.
Welford said the Northland DHB has contingency plans in place to ensure there was least disruption to patients and to ensure they and the staff were safe.
Those plans include doing more surgeries on the days preceding the strike, focusing on people who require less x-rays done on strike days, and outsourcing surgeries and lab services.
Northland DHB is encouraging people where ever possible to see their GP first unless it is an emergency.