Junior doctors not backing down from fight with DHBs as two strikes loom
Source: https://www.stuff.co.nz/news/110503874/-

2019-03-03 18:17:39

Members of the country's largest junior doctors' union will strike for a fourth time at the end of the month, in addition to a separate 48-hour strike which begins on Tuesday morning.

The New Zealand Resident Doctors' Association (NZRDA) announced on Monday it would undertake a further round of industrial action on February 26 and 27 following on from failed mediation between the union and District Health Boards (DHBs).

NZRDA senior advocate David Munro said its members had been "overwhelmingly consistent" in voting in favour of strike action, particularly as its ranks continued to grow.

"As we continue to gain new members, the determination and strength of our resident doctors is reflected in our ballots."

"Until the DHBs accept that we will not give up essential clauses in our contract that safeguard our members, we will continue with planned strike action."

With Wellington-based junior doctors walking off the job to picket outside Wellington Hospital on Tuesday, the Capital & Coast District Health Board (CCDHB) urged those with non-urgent illness or injuries to visit their GP in the first instance if possible.

"During this time people shouldn't delay seeking medical treatment if they need assistance. [The] hospital's emergency department remains open and anyone who requires urgent care will receive it."

While this week's strike action was set to take place nationwide, on Monday the NZRDA national executive  withdrew its notice for the Nelson area in acknowledgement of the recent and ongoing wildfire situation.

"There aren't any more hospital admissions necessarily but its a fragile environment and there's a great deal of uncertainty," Munro said.

The country's junior doctors, also known as resident medical officers, have said their reasons for striking are to preserve several protections they say are under threat if their collective agreement with district health boards changes.

The DHBs, represented by spokesman Dr Peter Bramley, last month expressed their disappointment in further strike action having been notified instead of the two parties "working toward a solution in the interests of patient care".

Following this week's strike action, NZRDA and DHBs representatives would resume mediation on Friday in Wellington.

"The RMOs have said they are absolutely determined to see out this campaign until there is any glimmer of hope or settlement at the bargaining table," Munro said.

"I think the mediation that we had last week brought the parties a little bit closer together ... I wouldn't call it a breakthrough at this stage but I think a little bit more of a preparedness from both parties who understand the perspective of the other side."

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