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DHBs’ false allegation on resident doctor union rights

District Health Boards are misleading the public by repeatedly claiming the Resident Doctors’ Association (RDA) is the only health sector union with the right to control some of their working conditions and then falsely describing this right as a union office veto.

Association of Salaried Medical Specialists Executive Director Ian Powell says ASMS negotiated a similar provision in its national collective agreement with DHBs.

The DHBs’ spokesperson, Peter Bramley, claimed on Morning Report today that the RDA was the only union with such right. This false claim has been made repeatedly as the DHBs pursue an unwise and aggressive attempt to isolate the RDA and divide the health workforce.

“What the DHBs call a veto is simply an obligation to reach agreement over specified matters,” Mr Powell says.

“There are also strong such obligations in the national collective agreement for hospital specialists. For example, in the event of being unable to resolve a dispute over patient safety risks, both ASMS and the DHB must reach agreement over a dispute resolution process before any decision is made,” he says.

“Another example is that recommendations arising out of a DHB review cannot be implemented until any serious professional or clinical issues are resolved by agreement or dispute resolution process is agreed.

“Under their national collective agreement hospital specialists’ hours of work are required to be mutually agreed with the DHB, including the number of hours and when they are worked.”

Mr Powell says the DHBs are misrepresenting the situation by mischievously labelling the mutual agreement clause a “head office veto”.

“What is required is that agreement is reached between the RDA and a DHB over changes. If the RDA has a proposed change to hours of work or rosters it can only proceed if the DHB chief executive agrees.”

Mr Powell says the that these extravagant allegations only serve to increase the conflict between resident doctors and the DHBs that employ them. We need de-escalation, not escalation.


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