The Lakes DHB risks "fatiguing clinical staff" after being handed three strike notices in three weeks.

On Tuesday, APEX, New Zealand's specialist allied, scientific and technical union announced plans for two 24-hour strikes, from 8am next Wednesday and 8am next Friday.

It came in the thick of the Resident Doctors' Association's national 48-hour strike, and just days after the RDA announced plans for a second strike between January 29 and 30.

Lakes DHB chief medical officer Dr Martin Thomas said while the hospital was currently coping well, "we cannot be complacent and underestimate the risks that the current situation creates".


"When we do not have the normal levels of clinical staffing and support in place as in the current situation, the system lacks its normal resilience.

"The ongoing and cyclical industrial action by different professional groups presents more challenges. Senior management and clinical staff are now required to spend increasing amounts of time dealing with planning responses...

"We hope for a swift resolution to the multiple industrial actions as we risk fatiguing clinical staff who continue to maintain acute core services; a situation which itself generates patient safety issues."

Unlike the junior doctors, the APEX strike is limited to the Lakes DHB, because anaesthetic technicians have district-specific agreements, not a national collective agreement.

The strike notice has been issued following failed collective bargaining.

Elective surgeries originally planned for January 23 and 25 will be rescheduled. Only life preserving surgeries will go ahead.

Taupō Hospital will not be affected.

The Lakes DHB area. Image / Supplied
The Lakes DHB area. Image / Supplied

Lakes DHB employs 11 anaesthetic technicians who mainly work in operating theatres helping anaesthetists.


They check and maintain the equipment and drugs are available, help insert airway devices and tubes into veins and arteries, and act as patient advocates.

Acting chief executive Nick Saville-Wood said the DHB had always bargained in good faith and would continue to do so.

Meanwhile, Lakes DHB said its hospitals were running smoothly during the second day of RDA strike, describing the emergency departments as "calm and settled".

It employs 93 resident medical officers and most are RDA members.

Lakes DHB cancelled elective and scheduled surgeries, affecting 20 patients across the two days, and outpatient clinics, affecting 350 people.

Striking doctors visited residents and volunteered at Cantabria Lifecare and Village in Springfield yesterday.

Cantabria assistant facility manager Polly Delfim, back left, with Rotorua RDA members. Photo / Samantha Olley
Cantabria assistant facility manager Polly Delfim, back left, with Rotorua RDA members. Photo / Samantha Olley

Assistant facility manager Polly Delfim said it "they walked around talking to the nurses, helped feed residents at lunch, and sat down to speak with some of them... the residents loved it".

Union member Dr Joel Winders helped organise the visit.

"Because we are taking services away from the community by being on strike, we thought we would give back to a hospital-level service, so it made sense to come here... they have a tricky job."

Last month, retiring Lakes DHB chief executive Ron Dunham reflected on the doctors', nurses' and midwives' strikes under his leadership.

Former Lakes DHB chief executive Ron Dunham. Photo / File
Former Lakes DHB chief executive Ron Dunham. Photo / File

"Health sector staff, they're all dedicated to their job. The money isn't the reason they come to work, so we've got to make sure that they are well kept and they're earning enough money to keep them here," he said.

"The challenges are always going to be not enough resources, not enough funding to do the things you know are going to make a difference."