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Hospitals ready for junior doctors' strike

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 16/10/2016

Hospitals say they will continue to provide safe care for patients when junior doctors are on strike this week, but some non-urgent appointments and operations will be rescheduled.

Members of the New Zealand Resident Doctors' Association (RDA) go on strike for 48 hours from 7am on Tuesday.

Junior doctors say they have to work 12 consecutive days and some of the shifts can be 16 hours long, which is unsafe for patients and too tiring for them.

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

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

DHBs are reassuring patients ahead of the strike.

Senior doctors and non-unionised staff are expected to fill the places left by the 3200 union doctors on strike.

Canterbury DHB said on Friday it employs about 490 resident medical officers and about 70 per cent of them are RDA members.

"The DHB is prioritising essential and acute services over others and this means hundreds of outpatient appointments and around 150 elective surgeries are being rescheduled," says Michael Frampton, general manager of people and capability at the DHB.

The emergency department at Christchurch Hospital will remain open during the strike but people are asked to contact their GPs unless it's a life-threatening emergency.

The junior doctors say Tairawhiti is the only DHB with maximum four nights and maximum 10 days in a row on rosters. RDA members there will be striking as part of national action but they'll use the two days to build a community garden on hospital grounds for the benefit of patients and staff.

The last strike by junior doctors was in 2008.

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