Junior doctors' long-running battle over work hours appears to be coming to an end.

Three thousand of the doctors have been negotiating a multi-employer collective agreement for "safer" rosters since January 1 last year.

But today the NZ Resident Doctors Association national secretary, Dr Deborah Powell, confirmed the district health boards' bargaining team will recommend settlement of the agreement to board chief executives on Thursday, before the association formally proceeds to ratification by its members.

She was cautiously optimistic the long battle was coming to an end.


"I'm apprehensive. We've thought we've had a deal before, although in fairness that hadn't been recommended by the bargaining team."

She was not aware of any previous occasions where the chief executives had turned down an agreement that had been recommended by the boards' bargaining team.

Junior doctors would be relieved, Powell said.

"The residents want this settled."

They've been fighting for rosters to be changed so they don't have to work seven night shifts in a row or 12 days in succession.

Almost 3000 junior doctors went on strike for three days in January, following another walk-out late last year.

The proposed settlement included that doctors would not be required to work more than 10 consecutive days and would be rostered a corresponding day off during the week for each weekend day worked, Powell said.

This means doctors on the identified rosters will have four rostered days off in a fortnight.

Doctors will be rostered no more than four consecutive night shifts of up to 10 hours, with stipulated recovery time post nights.

When a resident doctor has rostered days off during the week because they have worked the weekend there will be a corresponding drop in pay of between $192 and $342 a day, depending on salary level and seniority of the doctor.

The multi-employer collective agreement which expired in February last year will remain in force until February next year.

Doctors will be allowed to work back-to-back weekends, but some rostered days off will adjoin weekends where the doctor is not working, Powell said.

There will also be a 1.5 per cent pay rise effective immediately and an increase in the rates paid when a resident doctor carries out work over and above that described in their job description.