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Hospitals put plans in place for strike

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 17/10/2016

People have been urged to avoid going to hospital emergency departments unless it's a genuine emergency when 3000 junior doctors go on strike.

Members of the New Zealand Resident Doctors' Association are walking off the job for 48 hours from 7am on Tuesday over work rosters they say are unsafe for patients.

District health boards say they have plans in place to cope during the industrial action.

But they say people should contact their family doctor rather than go to emergency departments in non-essential cases.

They have also had to reschedule some non-urgent appointments and operations.

In Counties Manukau, chief medical officer Dr Gloria Johnson says the priority is providing urgent and acute care to those who need it.

However, about 600 patients are expected to have their non-urgent clinic or elective surgery rescheduled.

"We would like to assure all our patients that we are here if you need us," Dr Johnson said.

"We will certainly have other medical staff that will be available and provide urgent services through our emergency department."

Junior doctors say they have to work 12 consecutive days, with some shifts being 16 hours long.

A spokeswoman for the country's 20 DHBs says the 12 days comprise five week days, a weekend and the following five week days.

She says the DHBs are willing to give them two days off on week days, but the junior doctors want to be paid for them, which is effectively a pay rise.

Senior doctors and non-unionised staff are expected to fill the places left by the doctors on strike.

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