Doctors to strike to support colleagues

Local doctors go out next week in solidarity with colleagues at other DHBs; 300 patients to be affected.

Local doctors go out next week in solidarity with colleagues at other DHBs; 300 patients to be affected.

STANDING TOGETHER: Gisborne Hospital’s DHB Hauora Tairawhiti already has safe rosters in place for its young doctors like Dr William Ladyman, left, and Dr Morgan Pedersen. But the young doctors, who are also the Gisborne representatives for the New Zealand Resident Doctors Association, say they will take part in the planned nationwide strike to support their colleagues in other DHBs who are asking for a stop to unsafe working conditons, like working 12 days in a row. Negotiations are under way and there is still a chance the strike could be called off. Picture by Liam Clayton

UP TO 300 patients could be affected by a junior doctor strike at Gisborne Hospital, scheduled for three days next week.

Negotiations are taking place between District Health Boards (DHBs) and the New Zealand Resident Doctors Association (RDA), which could call the strike action off.

But even if it is, this would not reinstate appointments and surgeries already cancelled.

The strike is scheduled to start on Tuesday January 17 at 7am and end on Friday January 20 at 8am.

Gisborne Hospital’s DHB Hauora Tairawhiti is different to other DHBs because they already have “safe rosters”.

Hauora Tairawhiti was the first DHB to introduce split nights, working only a maximum of four nights in a row and not working more than 10 days in a row.

House surgeons at other DHBs are asked to work “unsafe” hours 12 days in a row, and night shifts of seven days in a row.

About 15 junior doctors here will join the strike to support colleagues at other DHBs.

Dr Morgan Pedersen, 27, and Dr William Ladyman, 25, are junior doctors at Gisborne Hospital and Gisborne representatives for the RDA.

Dr Pedersen said it was a bigger issue than just each individual DHB.

“It’s about getting these conditions put in place so the safe hours are across the board. All DHBs are not created equal.

“Not all house surgeons are as lucky as we are here in Gisborne and we will have to work in those other DHBs in the future.”

Dr Pedersen said they would use the strike days to continue to work for the community.

Dr Ladyman said they would bake freezable items for Hospice clients like meals, cakes and biscuits.

“It’s not that we want to strike, it’s because of the situation everyone has been put in,” he said.

Patients who had appointments rescheduled would receive a phone call and a follow-up letter.

If people remained uncertain through the strike period they should call 06 869 0500.

Hauora Tairawhiti clinical director surgical Dr Johan Peters said it was unfortunate RDA members had elected to continue strike action.

“Our focus is on ensuring a high standard of care can continue throughout,” he said.

“Safe hospital services will be in place. However, there will be significant disruption to the planned services we can provide during the strike.

“We would like to assure all our patients that we are here if you need us.

“Our emergency department will be open for emergencies. Other medical staff will be available and we will be providing acute services.

“However, during the strike dates, if your condition is not urgent or severe then I would encourage you to please contact your GP in the first instance or ring Healthline on 0800 311 116. It’s free 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

UP TO 300 patients could be affected by a junior doctor strike at Gisborne Hospital, scheduled for three days next week.

Negotiations are taking place between District Health Boards (DHBs) and the New Zealand Resident Doctors Association (RDA), which could call the strike action off.

But even if it is, this would not reinstate appointments and surgeries already cancelled.

The strike is scheduled to start on Tuesday January 17 at 7am and end on Friday January 20 at 8am.

Gisborne Hospital’s DHB Hauora Tairawhiti is different to other DHBs because they already have “safe rosters”.

Hauora Tairawhiti was the first DHB to introduce split nights, working only a maximum of four nights in a row and not working more than 10 days in a row.

House surgeons at other DHBs are asked to work “unsafe” hours 12 days in a row, and night shifts of seven days in a row.

About 15 junior doctors here will join the strike to support colleagues at other DHBs.

Dr Morgan Pedersen, 27, and Dr William Ladyman, 25, are junior doctors at Gisborne Hospital and Gisborne representatives for the RDA.

Dr Pedersen said it was a bigger issue than just each individual DHB.

“It’s about getting these conditions put in place so the safe hours are across the board. All DHBs are not created equal.

“Not all house surgeons are as lucky as we are here in Gisborne and we will have to work in those other DHBs in the future.”

Dr Pedersen said they would use the strike days to continue to work for the community.

Dr Ladyman said they would bake freezable items for Hospice clients like meals, cakes and biscuits.

“It’s not that we want to strike, it’s because of the situation everyone has been put in,” he said.

Patients who had appointments rescheduled would receive a phone call and a follow-up letter.

If people remained uncertain through the strike period they should call 06 869 0500.

Hauora Tairawhiti clinical director surgical Dr Johan Peters said it was unfortunate RDA members had elected to continue strike action.

“Our focus is on ensuring a high standard of care can continue throughout,” he said.

“Safe hospital services will be in place. However, there will be significant disruption to the planned services we can provide during the strike.

“We would like to assure all our patients that we are here if you need us.

“Our emergency department will be open for emergencies. Other medical staff will be available and we will be providing acute services.

“However, during the strike dates, if your condition is not urgent or severe then I would encourage you to please contact your GP in the first instance or ring Healthline on 0800 311 116. It’s free 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

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Mary-Ann de Kort - 2 years ago
We all get impatient when we think professionals aren't available when we need to have their services but most professionals won't strike unless they think there is no other alternative.
I'm sure the decision to strike in support of doctor colleagues in hospitals which aren't as caring hasn't been taken lightly. Our Tairawhiti doctors could very well end up working in hospitals which don't have safer staffing levels as they do. It is important that every patient has an attending doctor who can make good decisions due to having a clear mind. Long hours and fatigue could mean unsound diagnoses and decisions about treatment or no treatment. Imagine the effects of that.
In NZ we seem to have forgotten about solidarity and the strength of many who stand together to enforce beneficial change. We have forgotten it took 120 years of unity to enforce gains like good health and safety policies, annual leave, sick leave, decent pay etc. Today individual responsibility is the catch cry but we are social beings and rely on others.
The modern solution is quite simple really. Doctors should stand together in support of all doctors and DHBs should employ enough staff to do the job instead of relying on stressed and overworked professionals.
That way both the doctors and the patients will be safer. It could actually save money too as the first diagnosis will be more sound.

Punter - 2 years ago
These doctors are truly trouble makers. Always whining and are never happy!! They should have realised that this was the norm when they wanted a career in medicine. In fact, Auckland Medical School Multiple Mini Interview last year had one scenario of 'Doctors report getting burned out in their 30s and 60% of these doctors were female.' The discussion with the interviewer was 'What's your opinion about it? What can we do to change this?" I told the interviewer that medical schools should not select these individuals who give trouble when the on-job training starts. People who give trouble to the DHBs and taxpayers should not get into medicine in the first place. Select more students and cull those who call for changes to the profession of medicine!! Any future medical students should think more carefully when they apply for medicine as we don't want those who whine and make trouble in regards to their rosters. The NZ DHBs should be commended for running the health business as we don't have 300-400 doctors who take their lives as in the United States of America. Shame on these whiners!!

Punter - 2 years ago
Thanks for publishing my earlier comment.
To further clarify this issue, what these whining doctors forget is that 'To learn is to suffer.' Without proper on-job training in the hospital, how can they be competent practitioners in the future? You see, they can put an end to their strike if they were content on becoming a General Practitioner, where NZ is facing an epidemic doctor shortage. But, the majority of them want to get into lucrative medical specialties that are perceived as a 'ROAD (Radiology, Ophthalmology, Anesthesiology and Dermatology) to happiness'. The consultants from these ROAD specialties usually earn much more from their private practice business and work fewer hours (in comparison to say, a surgeon). General Practice is mostly perceived as a less lucrative area of medicine and very rarely does one aspire to be a rural GP, where there is so much of a need. This is one of the reasons why the Government needs to recruit international medical graduates, as the locally-trained ones are indifferent to the needs of NZ society. Thus, the taxpayer, who supports these selfish doctors, is the one who is eventually ripped off.

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