Having received an official strike notice in mid-May confirming that New Zealand Nurses’ Organisation nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants are planning to strike, Canterbury and West Coast DHBs are implementing contingency plans for the eight-hour strike period, from 11am to 7pm on Wednesday 9 June.
Acting Chief Executive for Canterbury and West Coast DHBs, Becky Hickmott says our number one consideration, as always, is patient safety, and acknowledges that NZNO also supports patient safety by providing Life Preserving Services (LPS) during the strike.
LPS, simply put, are the staffing levels and agreed essential tasks that ensure people in our care will be safe. LPS is on a voluntary basis, but because the union is responsible for providing LPS, staff that agree to cover LPS duties are enabling their NZNO colleagues to strike.
“Urgent and emergency care will remain available throughout the period of the planned strike. This includes the Emergency Department, acute surgery, all intensive care units, cancer care and the Renal Dialysis unit.
“111 calls will be responded to as usual and people should access urgent and emergency care as they normally would, but expect things to be busy,” says Ms Hickmott.
“There are close to 5000 nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants at Canterbury and West Coast DHBs who may strike, so the strikes are expected to cause significant disruption to non-urgent services in both regions.
“We apologise in advance for the disruption this planned industrial action will cause but we respect NZNO members’ right to take industrial action and acknowledge that these key staff have a valued role as part of our health system,” Ms Hickmott says.
“We are putting a number of measures in place to ensure we can continue to provide urgent and emergency care during the strikes. Our contingency plans are about rescheduling what isn’t urgent and reducing the demand on the staff who will be working on this day.
“As we have had more notice than usual of this strike, we have made far fewer surgery and outpatient appointments, and so there is less to change. We are in the process of rescheduling any that had been made on an individual basis to ensure that there is sufficient capacity to continue to provide emergency care during the strike.
“Urgent procedures and surgery such as cancer surgery will be prioritised during the planned strike period on a case-by-case basis.
“Our aim is to ensure those working during that period are available to care for patients with high and complex needs, as well as those needing emergency care,” Ms Hickmott says.
Useful numbers for contacting the appropriate service on the West Coast can be found here:
Switchboard numbers for individual Canterbury Hospital sites can be found here: