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Strike forces hospitals into emergency mode

Strike forces hospitals into emergency mode for two weeks

The strike by radiographers due to begin on Tuesday will reduce affected hospitals to virtually emergency services only – most of them for a fortnight.

Dr Dwayne Crombie, CEO of Waitemata District Health Board and Spokesperson for the DHBs, says the union rejected a new pay proposal put to it last week and strikes now seem inevitable.

“A three day strike this week followed closely by two, 24-hour strikes next week will mean the hospitals involved will essentially be in emergency mode for the next fortnight. The action’s been organised to put extra pressure on hospitals and our boards by punishing patients.

“Doctors won’t have x-rays and scans to help in diagnosis except in life threatening situations and each hospital is scaling back its services accordingly. Virtually all elective surgery at the hospitals involved will be postponed during the strikes and outpatient clinics will be reduced to ensure patient numbers are as low as possible.

“Emergency services will be provided – we don’t want people who are seriously ill staying away, but unless the matter is urgent, most hospitals are advising patients to see their GP first.”

Radiographers or Medical Radiation Technologists provide services such as X-rays, CT and MRI scans and ultrasound – they will stop work for three days from Tuesday next week at seven DHBs - Southland, Otago, Canterbury, Hutt Valley, Tairawhiti (Gisborne), Lakes (Rotorua), and Bay of Plenty. Two more strike notices have also been issued for Tuesday and Thursday the following week to all except Tairawhiti.

The striking MRTs want the same terms and conditions that MRTs in other DHBs – Dr Crombie says there are a large number of greatly varying rates resulting over separate negations going back more than 10 years. “Aligning them in one year is simply unaffordable. The cost would be more than 15% and could only be funded by reducing services or paying other workers less.”

“On Friday DHBs tabled a revised deal offering staff radiographers essentially what they asked for – an automatic pay scale from $42,400 - $57,000 with merit steps for those with extra training and qualifications, and higher levels of performance. In addition, most MRTs earn an extra 20% in penal rates and overtime.

“Getting national consistency involves compromise on both sides – we have moved our position considerably to get the majority of the workers to the national rates over two and a half years. We cannot afford to do more or do it faster without compromising what we might pay to other workers or patient services".

ends

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