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Senior Doctors Accept Health Minister’s Offer

Media Statement For Immediate Release,
thursday 21 February 2008

“Senior Doctors Accept Health Minister’s Offer of Direct Intervention in Collective Agreement Negotiations”

“Senior doctors have accepted the Health Minister David Cunliffe’s unprecedented offer of direct intervention in the impasse in our bitter national collective agreement negotiations with district health boards,” said Mr Ian Powell, Executive Director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, today.

“Yesterday Mr Cunliffe met our National Executive for a blunt discussion on the impasse on negotiations. We were on the brink of issuing notice of industrial action following the strong vote by senior doctors for industrial action in the national ballot. He made a plea for us to give him a month in order to try to sort it out by his own direct intervention. This was accepted by the National Executive today.”

“For years health ministers have stated that they did not get involved in industrial negotiations. Any involvement has been indirect and secretive. Mr Cunliffe has boldly reversed this position by his preparedness to be directly and openly involved. It is a high political risk for him.”

“We were impressed by Mr Cunliffe’s sincerity, conviction and courage. We also believe that his intervention would not have happened if it was not for the massive vote (88%) for industrial action by senior doctors in the national ballot.”

“This impasse is due to the serious senior doctor workforce crisis in which the major factor was been the far superior salaries and other conditions in Australia.”

“Mr Cunliffe appears to be appreciating the significance of this workforce crisis and the critical importance of senior doctors in the provision of quality health services to patients,” concluded Mr Powell.

Ian Powell



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