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9 out of 10 seniors vote for industrial action

Attention: Health Reporter

Media Statement For Immediate Release,
Friday 14 December 2007

“9 out of 10 senior doctors vote for industrial action:
sea change in health system”

“A sea change has occurred in New Zealand’s health system with 9 out of 10 senior doctors voting for limited industrial action,” said Mr Ian Powell, Executive Director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, today. Mr Powell was commenting on the result of the Association’s national ballot on industrial action following the lengthy impasse in national collective agreement negotiations.

“The vote supporting industrial action was massive with 88% in favour and only 12% against. There were massive majorities in all district health boards with the smallest majority being 77%. In a supplementary question most senior doctors voted for a mix of repeated two day and week long strikes with a significant minority wanting an indefinite strike.”

“This has been a tremendously difficult decision for senior doctors to make. When they first became senior doctors they would have never considered the possibility that they would vote for industrial action. It would have been the last thing on their minds. However, they have been left with no option because of the medical workforce crisis that threatens the future of our health system and patient care.”

“It is hard to imagine a more damning indictment on the industrial relations strategy and national leadership of district health boards than 9 out 10 senior doctors voting for industrial action. They have given health bosses a massive vote of no confidence. There is a medical workforce crisis in New Zealand that seriously threatens access to health services, quality of patient care, and patient safety. The failure to respond to this crisis is a dereliction of responsibility by DHB bosses.”

“We have an overwhelming mandate for industrial action. But we have decided to give DHBs the opportunity to absorb the power of the message. In an olive branch we have deferred giving formal notice of industrial action until our next National Executive meeting on 21 February. Further negotiations have been scheduled for 11-12 February.”

“Senior doctors have given health bosses the opportunity to respond to this sea change by addressing the seriousness of the medical workforce crisis. If they fail to address it then the sea change will quickly become a tidal wave. The choice is theirs,” concluded Mr Powell.

Ian Powell



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