More than 1000 outpatient appointments and surgeries have been postponed at Tauranga and Whakatāne hospitals due to three junior doctor strikes this year.

During the most recent strike by members of the Resident Doctors' Association (RDA) union on February 12-13, some 31 elective surgical procedures and 139 outpatient appointments were postponed at Tauranga Hospital alone.

The Bay of Plenty District Health Board's acting chief operating officer, Karen Smith, said no patients needed to be transferred to other health providers due to the strike action.

She said the DHB was doing all it could to mitigate and minimise the effects of the strikes and ensure the safety of patients and staff.

Advertisement

"This has meant priority has been given to ensuring we are able to provide all essential care as necessary during those periods of strike action," Smith said.

"We are rebooking deferred non-urgent elective theatre procedures at the earliest available opportunity."

The Bay of Plenty Times also asked the DHB how many weeks the elective surgeries list had fallen behind as a result of the strikes but this information was not provided.

Meanwhile, the dispute between the union and the 20 district health boards is heating up.

DHBs spokesman Dr Peter Bramley said legal proceedings against the union were filed with the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) on Wednesday alleging a breach of good faith bargaining over the junior doctors' employment agreement.

The union has disputed the allegations.

"We believe that repeated misleading and inaccurate statements by the RDA are
not in the public interest and enough is enough," Bramley said.

The authority was asked to urgently intervene.

Bramley said the DHBs would continue to negotiate in good faith to ensure clinicians and hospital managers could make decisions on rosters without union interference.

Resident Doctors' Association's senior advocate David Munro says the union would vigorously defend its position. Photo/Supplied
Resident Doctors' Association's senior advocate David Munro says the union would vigorously defend its position. Photo/Supplied

Union senior advocate David Munro said the DHBs had continued to demand "unilateral power" to make changes to junior doctors' terms and conditions.

"They made it clear that this is a non-negotiable position," he said.

"It's quite extraordinary ... I can't think of any other workforce that's burdened with such contractual uncertainty or so vulnerable to the whims of its employer," Munro said.

Regarding the ERA case, he told Radio New Zealand the union would defend itself, was confident in its claims and took the rules seriously.

The junior doctors are set to strike again on February 26 and a fifth strike is being considered for March 12.

DHB midwives have also taken part in a series of strike actions in past months.