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DHBs Seek Ruling On Emergency Cover By Union Members

District Health Boards have asked the Employment Court to help resolve a disagreement about ensuring emergency cover during strike action by nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants.

Spokesperson Dale Oliff says DHBs were this morning given notice of an 8-hour strike on Thursday 19 August, and it is critical the matter is resolved before then.

“The law requires DHBs and the NZNO to work together and make sure there are enough people with the right specialist skills to cover emergency and essential services during strikes.

“During the strikes in June, and those threatened in July, NZNO refused to guarantee making the agreed number of skilled union members available, even though it had signed agreements confirming the support was needed. All it would do was to use its “best endeavours”.

“We work with NZNO to agree how many of its members we need to provide LPS. Once those agreements are reached, we expect NZNO to honour them.

“DHBs are worried the NZNO approach will put the safety of patients and other staff at risk.

“This is too important to leave to chance – we need this resolved as soon as possible to ensure we can keep patients and other staff safe.

“We respect NZNO members’ right to strike – that’s not in question. More importantly, we both have a duty to protect patients and staff if the strike goes ahead.

“DHBs will reduce demand as much as possible by deferring non-acute and elective procedures so we can provide emergency and essential services.

“Doctors, allied health teams and nursing staff who are not NZNO members will come to work as normal, but we will still need the skills and services of some NZNO members.

“The NZNO members involved will be paid for their time and providing emergency cover will not affect their pay talks – this is about preserving life and preventing disability.

“Emergency and essential services will be available during the strike and it’s important people don’t delay seeking medical treatment or going to hospital if the matter is urgent.

“If the strikes go ahead, people will still be able call 111 for emergencies or an ambulance. They also still be able to visit their GP or local pharmacy or call Healthline on 0800 611 116,” says Ms Oliff.

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