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Life Preserving Services during strike action

David Cunliffe

10 July, 2008
Life Preserving Services during strike action

Minister of Health David Cunliffe said clinicians must be free to make good proactive clinical decisions without hesitation during strike action.

Mr Cunliffe said he agreed with Health and Disability Commissioner Ron Paterson that industrial action in the health sector placed patients and those remaining clinical staff in a potentially hazardous situation.

“I note that this year Senior Doctors have amicably resolved their dispute without strike action and a range of other groups are also well on their way resolving their pay negotiations.”

“My earnest hope is that junior doctors will seize the commission as a significant way forward without further recourse to strike action.”

However, since 2006 when this strike action took place there has been a change to LPS provisions which have been extended to include crisis intervention, therapeutic services and urgent diagnostic procedures in situations that could lead to permanent disability (as well as for the preservation of life).

Mr Cunliffe said workers in the health sector had a legal right to take industrial action so long as Life Preserving Services were maintained.

“The decision released today shows that DHBs and unions needed to work together to ensure that clinicians were able to call in LPS without hesitation.”

“In one case we had a clinician who believed that should he call in a Medical Radiation Technician and it turned out that the patient’s condition was not life threatening - this put other patients at risk of technicians not responding to calls for LPS services. Clearly that situation is not acceptable.”
“Negotiating parties must ensure that guidelines for Life Preserving Services are clear and that clinical staff be left in no doubt that they can, without penalty for the organisation they work for, call in LPS services without hesitation.

“I am pleased that there is now an understanding between the unions and DHBs that if an LPS request is made it will be met, and any disputes about interpretation will be dealt with after the fact.”

“I would rather have LPS services over-used than have patients suffering because clinicians are severely hindered in their ability to provide services.”

Mr Cunliffe said he would be making it clear to negotiators for the health sector that they must be decisive and clear with unions that clinicians should be able to call in Life Preserving Services based on their clinical judgement without fear of ramification.


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