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BPDHB To Put Safety First

27 November 2006

Bay of Plenty District Health Board to put safety first during strike

Bay of Plenty District Health Board has contingency plans in place to ensure patient and community safety during the Laboratory Workers strike planned to start on 29 November.

The health board has contingency plans based on all 17 Laboratory Workers (all based at Whakatane Hospital) striking for seven days from 29 November until 6 December.

As the strike also affects the New Zealand Blood Service, contingency plans are in place to manage restricted supply of blood and blood products at both Tauranga and Whakatane Hospitals during the strike period.

The strike will impact the ability to deliver some services, however, all life-preserving services will continue to operate.

Contingency Planner Kerrie Freeman says that a large number of patients require laboratory diagnostic testing, blood, or blood products, so the impact of the strike is significant.

Bay of Plenty District Health Board contracts all laboratory services in the Western Bay of Plenty, including Tauranga Hospital, to Medlab. As Medlab staff are not part of the New Zealand Medical Laboratory Workers Union laboratory services for Tauranga Hospital will continue as usual. In addition, Medlab will support Whakatane Hospital with all non-urgent testing during the strike.

"This means that Tauranga Hospital will be virtually unaffected with regards to medical testing," says Mrs Freeman.

"The main concern is the limited blood supply available during the strike, as the New Zealand Blood service staff will be striking during the period."

"We are therefore rescheduling a number of patients who are more likely to require blood until after the strike, and bringing forward a number of patients who are less likely to require blood or blood products. Stocks of blood for emergencies will continue to be made available under 'life preserving service' provisions."

"All non-urgent testing for Whakatane patients will be undertaken at Tauranga during the strike period."

Mrs Freeman says that this may result in some slight delays for non-urgent test results, but generally the public will feel little impact of the strike.

"Robust contingency planning, and the support and good will of clinicians will see the health board safely through the next strike."

Elective surgery patients affected by the strike will be notified and put on standby in anticipation of the strike. Postponed surgery will be rebooked as soon as possible after the strike.

A recorded phone message has been set up for the Bay of Plenty community to update them on the strike in Tauranga on 07 579 8454 and Whakatane on 07 306 0960.

ENDS

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