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South Canterbury Senior Doctors At End Of Tether

“South Canterbury Senior Doctors At End Of Tether Over After-Hours Work Pressures; To Hold Stopwork Meeting”

“Senior doctors employed by the South Canterbury District Health Board are at the end of their tether over intense workload pressures caused by onerous after-hours call rosters and will hold a stopwork meeting to discuss what to do about their management’s refusal to face up to this critical issue,” said Mr Ian Powell, Executive Director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, today.

The two-hour stopwork meeting will be held on Monday 11 November commencing at 10am during which scheduled procedures are expected to be cancelled although emergency cover will continue to be provided. Senior doctors employed by the DHB mainly work at Timaru Hospital.

“The simmering pot has inevitably boiled over following a breakdown in our collective agreement negotiations with management where we sought to resolve compensation for this intense work pressure. The current collective agreement expired on 30 June but no progress was made on this issue despite twice using mediation.”

“Senior doctors are forced to work on high frequency rosters at nights and on weekends coping with life threatening emergencies but only with minimal staff support. Unlike senior doctors in neighbouring Dunedin and Christchurch hospitals, they are not supported by registrars (experienced resident doctors). Management has consistently refused to face up to its responsibility by persistently rejecting our claims but making none of their own.”

“Underpinning this dispute is a deplorably bad relationship between senior management and senior doctors (along with other health professionals). Senior doctors consider the style of their managers to be autocratic, dictatorial and unsympathetic to the pressures they face. South Canterbury has one of the worst internal relationships among the 21 DHBs. Long-standing senior doctors who have given lengthy service to South Canterbury say it is the worst that they have experienced.”

“One of the saddest comments I have ever heard was by a senior doctor at Timaru Hospital who has given many years of dedicated committed service to patients in South Canterbury. He has fought hard over the years to recruit and retain quality senior doctors the region. But he now believes that he can no longer encourage potential recruits to come to South Canterbury because the relationships with and behaviour by management are so poor.”

“Senior doctors want the DHB to understand the pressures they are facing on a daily basis and to be prepared to provide some reasonable compensation for it. It is not a lot to ask,” concluded Mr Powell.

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