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Doctors In Training Settle For Improved Working Conditions Over Pay In The Wake Of COVID-19

Doctors in Training negotiate a MECA focusing on improved conditions, reflecting the difficult financial times

The Specialty Trainees of New Zealand (STONZ) says its new collective agreement with District Health Boards recognises the exceptional circumstances created by COVID-19 and creates a focus on important areas such as wellbeing, fatigue and training.

STONZ represents 1600 Resident Medical Officers – about 40 percent of all doctors in training – and their new agreement has made a number of improvements to working conditions.

Richard Storey (Vice-President) says every aspect of life in New Zealand has been impacted by COVID-19 and this settlement acknowledges that.

“New Zealanders underwent significant hardship during lockdown to stay home and save lives as part of the team of five million. This took pressure off our hospitals but of course had a significant effect on our economy.

“Given this economic context we used these negotiations to make progress on a number of areas important to RMOs including fatigue, wellbeing, training and hours of work. It’s a mistake to think of bargaining as being just about money.

“RMOs work hard and we play an important role in patient care. In these uncertain times we are grateful to have job security and we are conscious that others haven’t been so fortunate.

“Many of our members work big hours and wellbeing is just as important to doctors in training and this deal is a significant improvement.

Richard Storey (Vice-President) says the new 12-month collective agreement covering DHBs all over the country was endorsed by STONZ members last week.

“Usually, MECA terms are for two to three years, this term is for only one year which will give us an opportunity to negotiate again within a short time frame.”

“Our deal takes into account the operational and financial pressure on DHBs through COVID-19 as well as STONZ desire to bring RMO wellbeing to the forefront. It is collaborative and will benefit RMOs and DHBs which is ultimately good news for patients. We are pleased with the constructive nature of the negotiations and look forward to implementing these significant changes."

"In the meantime, we support our colleagues in the health workforce and wish them all the best for their ongoing and upcoming negotiations."

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