Video | Agriculture | Confidence | Economy | Energy | Employment | Finance | Media | Property | RBNZ | Science | SOEs | Tax | Technology | Telecoms | Tourism | Transport | Search

 

The stakes are high in Resident Doctor and DHB dispute

The increasingly bitter and stressful dispute between resident (junior) doctors represented by their union the Resident Doctors’ Association (RDA) and the 20 district health boards (DHBs) is at a critical juncture. It is in the public interest for the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) to affect an expeditious breakthrough in this.

This would come through a legal process called ‘facilitation’ which is a non-binding but authoritative decision by the ERA on the issues in dispute. In protracted bitter disputes over collective agreements either the affected union or employer(s) can apply to the ERA for facilitation. In this controversy the RDA has applied for facilitation. The DHBs have argued against the RDA’s application but such was the loss of credibility of its position that they did a sudden U-turn and supported it.

The stakes are high in this dispute. There is a huge risk for the future of New Zealand’s health system because many resident doctors progress through the ranks to become the specialists we rely on to lead services and train the next generation of doctors. We desperately need these doctors in training to regard DHBs as employers of choice.

Already we have a workforce crisis with overworked specialists in public hospitals. We have a dangerously high 50% burnout rate and (in 2016) nearly 25% were intending to leave over the following five years. The best estimate is that specialist shortages are around 20% (around 1,000). The more these doctors in training become disenchanted or angry with the DHBs over this dispute, the more likely they will consider taking up more attractive employment options overseas. They are well trained and highly employable. The more this happens the more the current specialist workforce crisis deteriorates.

The ERA will not be facilitating a dispute over pay increases. If pay was the key issue this negotiation would have been concluded months ago. Instead it is about perceived power. The DHBs are seeking to remove a number of provisions in the existing collective agreement concerning hours of work and rosters that require reaching agreement with the union. They disingenuously and emotively call this removing the “union” or “RDA veto”.

In truth, it is joint decision-making designed to address a power imbalance where vulnerable junior doctors are dependent on the DHBs for their training and future career prospects. It provides a level playing field. In many cases exploiting this power imbalance is perceived but, as is commonly stated, perception is as important as reality. Further, there has been enough reality to justify the perception.

The RDA wants to hold on to the obligation to reach agreement on these matters. On behalf of the DHBs the chief executives want to replace this obligation with their right to ultimately determine the decision. This fact is disguised by the rhetoric of local decision-making.

There are considered concerns about the current decision-making process including from some of our members, specialists themselves. The current joint decision-making process is seen as too rigidly applied at times. There is good argument for reassessing how this might work better without creating increased managerial control.

This will be the task of the ERA when it facilitates. If it is to avoid worsening the confidence of resident doctors in those ultimately responsible for the provision of our public health service and worsen the highly precarious state of the specialist workforce in our public hospitals, then the ERA will need to weave a solution that finds a more nuanced way of addressing this power imbalance. It should not throw the baby out with the bathwater.


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Auckland Transport: Successful Bridge Repair Opens Two Additional Lanes To Traffic

The opening of two additional lanes on the Auckland Harbour Bridge this morning will help relieve some motorway congestion for motorists heading home to the North Shore tonight. More>>

ALSO:

Statistics New Zealand: COVID-19 Sees Record 12.2 Percent Fall In New Zealand’s Economy

Gross domestic product (GDP) fell by 12.2 percent in the June 2020 quarter, the largest quarterly fall recorded since the current series began in 1987, as the COVID-19 restrictions in place through the quarter impacted economic activity, Stats NZ said ... More>>

ALSO:

Climate: Scientists Release ‘Blueprint’ To Save Critical Ecosystems And Stabilize The Earth’s Climate

A group of scientists and experts produced the first comprehensive global-scale analysis of terrestrial areas essential for biodiversity and climate resilience, totaling 50.4% of the Earth's land. The report was published in Science Advances ... More>>

ALSO:

MPI: Independent Review Launched Into Assurances For Safe Transport Of Livestock By Sea

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has launched an independent review of the assurances it receives for the safe transport of livestock by sea. MPI Director-General Ray Smith says Mike Heron QC has been appointed to lead the review, which is expected ... More>>

ALSO:


Computers: New Zealand PC Market Grows Nearly 40% Due To Work From Home Demand

COVID-19 had large impacts on demand for PCs as businesses prepared for lockdowns by purchasing notebooks to mobilise their workforce. In the second quarter of 2020, New Zealand's Traditional PC market experienced a 39.7% year-on-year (YoY) growth ... More>>

ALSO:


University Of Auckland: Whale-Watching By Satellite – Follow Their Travels Online

Scientists have successfully attached satellite tracking tags to six New Zealand southern right whales, or tohorā, and are inviting the public to follow the whales’ travels online. Part of a major research project involving the University of Auckland ... More>>

Commerce Commission: Kiwibank Admits System Failures And Agrees To Pay Customers $5.2 Million

Kiwibank has entered into a settlement agreement with the Commerce Commission after reporting that it failed to have in place robust home loan variation disclosure policies, procedures and systems. In a settlement dated 27 August 2020, Kiwibank admitted that ... More>>

Ministry of Health: Public Transport Distancing Requirements Relaxed

Physical distancing requirements on public transport have been reviewed by the Ministry of Health to determine whether they are still required at Alert Level 2 (or below). The Ministry’s assessment is that mandatory face covering and individuals tracking ... More>>

ALSO:

NZHIA: New Zealand Hemp Industry Set To Generate $2 Billion Per Annum And Create 20,000 Jobs

A new report says a fully enabled hemp industry could generate $2 billion in income for New Zealand by 2030, while also creating thousands of new jobs. Written by industry strategist Dr Nick Marsh, the report has prompted calls from the New Zealand Hemp ... More>>

ALSO:

Stats NZ: One In 14 Employed People Report High Risk Of Losing Jobs

About one in 14 workers say they expect to lose their job or business by mid-2021, Stats NZ said today. A survey of employed people in the June 2020 quarter showed 7 percent felt there was a high or almost certain chance of losing their job or business ... More>>

ASB Quarterly Economic Forecast: NZ Economy Doing Better Than Expected, But Challenges Remain

August lockdown estimated to have shaved 8% off NZ’s weekly GDP, and 0.5% off annual GDP Economy now expected to shrink 5% (year-on-year) by end of 2020 Unemployment rate now expected to peak at 7.2% The latest ASB Quarterly Economic Forecast is less ... More>>

ALSO: