Nearly 4000 appointments for patient's health care were postponed by the 48-hour strike by unionised resident doctors in October, a new analysis shows.

More than 600 of these were for elective surgery, according to data from the 20 district health boards.

And the estimated cost to DHBs of extra payments to senior doctors arising from the walk-out of their junior colleagues was around $1.5 million, said the DHB Shared Services agency.

Answering questions under the Official Information Act, the agency said the known costs of the extra payments at from 14 DHBs were $976,636.


Extrapolating this sum across the remaining six DHBs, which had been unable to answer in time for the release of the information, the agency calculated the national cost would have totalled about $1.5 million during the strike by resident medical officers (RMOs).

"By comparison, the RMOs who participated in the strike action forfeited around $1.1 million in lost wages over the two days."

"DHBs employ a national contingency planner and her costs for the strikes was circa $30,000. DHBs utilise existing staff to manage contingency planning at a local level so there is no direct additional staffing cost, though there is the opportunity cost of diversion from other work."

Before the strike, a dispute blew up between the senior doctors' union and the DHBs over payments to specialists for any additional work they did as a result of the walk-out.

The Association of Salaried Medical Specialists advised members to claim $568 an hour for additional work, which was the inflation-adjusted rate paid in the 2008 strike by the Resident Doctors Association (RDA), and $340 an hour for work that became more onerous in the absence of usual resident doctor support.

The DHBs said they had offered rates of $180 to $500 an hour, and some senior doctors had told of being "embarrassed by the 2008 rates".

The (RDA) had intended to hold another strike following the one in October, but called it off in the immediate aftermath of the Kaikoura/Canterbury earthquake on November 14..

Bargaining talks between the DHBs and the RDA are ongoing.


Delayed health care
Because of the resident doctors' 48-hour strike in October, DHBs postponed 3974 health care appointments. They appointments were:
• 628 elective surgeries
• 316 other procedures
• 884 first specialist assessments
• 2146 follow-up appointments