For immediate release
Date: 5 May 2008
Waikato Hospital Planning For Second Strike
Waikato District Health Board's key focus during the next strike by junior doctors will be on maintaining patient safety.
For this reason, Waikato Hospital will scale back many elective services so that emergency services are well covered during the 49-hour national junior doctors' strike and reducing the number of patients in the hospital from more than 600 to 400.
Those patients affected by the strike include scheduled surgery and procedures, along with some outpatient appointments.
Letters will go to those with an appointment or surgery for cancellation and/or rescheduling.
Group manager Waikato Hospital Hayley McConnell said the hospital had maintained its contingency planning for this second strike period.
"We have a detailed contingency plan for the junior doctors to ensure safe patient care is maintained at Waikato Hospital during the strike."
Waikato Hospital employed about 305 registrars and house surgeons. As part of contingency planning, the hospital was assuming all junior doctors planned to strike from 7am on Wednesday 7 May to 8am on Friday 9 May.
Ms McConnell said the community could rest assured that maintaining essential emergency services including acute surgery, emergency department care, intensive care, and maternity care, was a priority.
"It will be a busy time for the emergency department during the strike so it is important that we keep these services open for those who need it.
"The emergency department is for emergencies only, people with a lesser ailment which could be adequately addressed by their GP should go to their GP," she said.
Ms McConnell also wanted to express her appreciation for the continued support and assistance from the senior doctors, other hospital staff involved and healthcare providers across the Waikato.
"We will be doing all we can to provide them with clinical support during the strike," she said.
Health Waikato's rural hospitals in Taumarunui, Te Kuiti, Tokoroa, Te Awamutu and Morrinsville do not employ junior doctors. Thames Hospital has two junior doctors.
The hospital has set up an information line 0800 100 178. If the line is busy, callers are encouraged to leave a message and a staff member will return the call as soon as possible.