20 Sep 2005

Samoa says it wants New Zealand doctors to cover strike

3:39 pm on 20 September 2005

Samoa's acting prime minister has confirmed his government wants New Zealand doctors to temporarily fill gaps during a strike by doctors in Samoa.

Government-funded doctors walked off the job in a campaign for more pay and better working conditions.

The Health Minister, Mulitalu Siafausa, who's also the acting prime minister, says his Government has asked New Zealand's High Commission in Apia to investigate the possibility of New Zealand doctors helping out during the industrial action.

He says it hasn't received a response yet - and he says the Government is still waiting to hear from the striking doctors exactly what work they will or won't do.

"We have tried the best to obtain from them what sort of strike. If this is a work-to-rule strike or an all-out strike. Up to now they have never told us officially what sort of strike."

Mulitalu Siafausa says patient care at the public hospital is not suffering as other doctors, drawn from the hospital's management and from private practice, are doing the work of the striking doctors.

Meanwhile, New Zealand's Medical Association has reacted cautiously to the suggestion New Zealand doctors could fill medical gaps during the strike.

The chairman of the New Zealand Medical Association, Dr Ross Boswell, says New Zealand doctors may not have medical registration in Samoa and they would also have to get used to another country's way of doing things.