3 Oct 2016

Junior doctors to strike over long hours

9:46 pm on 3 October 2016

Junior doctors are planning a nation-wide 48-hour strike later this month, over what they say are dangerously excessive work hours.

All 20 district health boards (DHBs) will be hit by the action from 7am on Tuesday 18 October until Thursday 20 October.

The industrial action was called after mediation with the DHBs failed today.

New Zealand Resident Doctors Association national secretary Deborah Powell told Checkpoint with John Campbell that a survey heard from 1182 doctors who had made mistakes at work due to fatigue, and 275 who had fallen asleep driving after work.

But the spokesperson on employment relations for the 20 DHBs, Julie Patterson, rejected that.

"I'm absolutely stunned at some of the misrepresentation. We have not been able to verify any of the claims that have been made through the survey, which again the union is not prepared to share with us."

The doctors' union said it was extremely disappointing it had come down to having to strike to force changes in rosters that were unsafe for both its members and patients.

The complete withdrawal of labour was the only way forward that it could see after 10 months of bargaining with resistant DHBs, it said.

But the health boards said they tabled an offer today that would give the doctors some of the best hours of work in the world.

They said they had agreed to fast-track changes to night shifts and to cut the maximum number of days worked in a row to 10.

The health boards said their plans to cope with the strike were well advanced and the public would be advised of any disruption.