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Hospitals Prepare For Junior Doctors' Strike

Media Statement From District Health Boards

For Immediate Release – Monday 7 April

Hospitals Prepare For Junior Doctors' Strike


Here we go again

The country’s hospitals have begun contingency planning for another strike by Junior Doctors.

The doctors have given notice of a 48 hour strike on the Tuesday and Wednesday before ANZAC Day (0700 on Tues 22 April – 0700 Thurs 24 April) which would reduce hospitals to emergency services only and force the deferment of all non urgent surgery and elective treatments for several days.

Spokesperson for the DHBs, David Meates, says the public has a right to be wary of this union and ask what’s going on.

“This union only has one way of negotiating – holding a loaded gun to the heads of patients. This strike will force hospitals to cut back services to make sure they can provide urgent and emergency cover.

“What’s worse the doctors are planning another three day strike for the week after the ANZAC holiday weekend which means elective and non-urgent surgery might have to be deferred for up to 10 days.

Mr Meates says the next round of talks had been scheduled for 22 April. “DHBs are prepared to meet and talk at any time, however, the reality is that we’ll never get a deal with this group while they’re claiming 40%.

“The union is claiming three base pay increases of 10% a year plus increases in other allowances and rates that push the costs to 40% - in total or more than 13% per year.”

The demands are significantly beyond other health sector settlements which have been around 4%. “We’ve offered this group a salary package that is in line with the nurses settlement and the offer that senior doctors are now considering, but the union’s response has actually been to increase its claim.”

“It’s not a coincidence that the first day of the strike is the day we were due to meet again with a mediator size of its demands. There’s no way hospitals can afford this kind of increase and unless the union is prepared to be more realistic – strike is inevitable.”

Mr Meates says DHBs have some genuine workforce issues to resolve – including growing shortages of junior doctors, but they won’t be solved in pay talks. “The union is talking up a problem with scaremongering about a retention crisis to support its claim.”

“In the last five years, we’ve added more than 300 junior doctors to our hospitals, Dr migration to Australia has not changed significantly and their earnings have increased top the point where in 2007, the average 1st year RMO earns $70,138 plus a range of additional payments of $15,149.”

In addition to the salary, other benefits that Junior Doctors receive include free meals, 6 weeks annual leave, 2 weeks study leave and unlimited sick leave, and they work for an average of 55 hours per week under supervised conditions.

“Junior doctors don’t work in isolation – they’re part of a team and we can’t do a deal with them without considering the impact on the senior doctors who train them and the other health professionals they work with.

“It is hard to find any justification for holding communities to ransom by disrupting services and denying patients treatment – all for a claim of this size.”


ends

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