Canterbury and West Coast DHBs are implementing contingency plans for a planned eight-hour strike by midwife members of the MERAS union.
The dates and times of the planned strikes are as follows:
- Tuesday 10 August, 11 am to 7 pm on the West Coast, and
- Wednesday 11 August, 11 am to 7 pm in Canterbury
MERAS members include many of the midwives employed by DHBs. Lead Maternity Carers (LMCs) or midwife members of other unions will not take part in the strike action.
Dr Peter Bramley, Chief Executive for both DHBs says the DHBs’ number one priority is the continued safety of women and babies.
“Our contingency plans will reduce the demand on the staff who will be working on those days, while ensuring we can continue to provide safe care and support to women giving birth or recovering during the strike period.”
No elective caesareans have been scheduled for during the strike. Emergency caesareans and other birthing-related procedures that are clinically indicated will still go ahead.
“We encourage women expecting to give birth or be in Christchurch Women’s Hospital during the strikes to talk to their LMC for reassurance and unless advised otherwise, they should stick to their birth plan. We are in the process of contacting all women likely to be affected by the strike action to let them know that they will still receive the best and safest care we can offer, and to reschedule any clinic appointments that need to be postponed.
The DHBs have an agreement in place with the union to ensure patients receive safe and appropriate care during the strike period. Both DHBs acknowledge the work MERAS and their members do to support patient safety by providing Life-Preserving Services (LPS) during the strike.
“We apologise in advance for the disruption and for any distress this industrial action will cause, while respecting people’s right to strike and the valued role these key staff play as part of our health system,” Dr Bramley says.
People should access urgent and emergency care as they normally would, and other non-maternity acute care services will remain available throughout the period of the planned strikes.
- For anything unrelated to maternity Canterbury people can continue to call their General Practice team 24/7 as their first point of call for Care Around the Clock. Coasters should call their usual general practice. After hours they should follow the instructions to be put through to a nurse who can provide health advice. Anyone not enrolled with a GP on the Coast can call Healthline on 0800 611 116.
- Emergency and urgent care will be available throughout and people should access these services as they normally would.
- Canterbury community birthing units will continue to be open for women in labour, however, post-birth transfers on the day before or on the day of the strike will be limited.
- St George’s primary birthing unit is unaffected and will remain available throughout the strike period for primary birthing and postnatal care (women who are booked to give birth there will have priority). Transfers to St George’s from Christchurch Women’s Hospital will be by exception as clinically-indicated, and on a case-by-case basis.
- Christchurch Women’s Hospital will be open, though with reduced staffing. We are working with MERAS to ensure there will be sufficient, suitably-skilled staff cover to ensure women and babies receive safe appropriate and care