Junior doctors’ strike affects clinics and non-emergency surgery

11 January 2017

Hauora Tairāwhiti has preparations well underway for the proposed strike by Junior Doctors from 7am Tuesday, 17 January 2017 until 8am Friday, 20 January 2017.

“While it is unfortunate that the New Zealand Resident Doctors Association members have elected to continue their strike action, our focus is on ensuring a high standard of care can continue throughout,” said Dr Johan Peters, Clinical Director Surgical for Hauora Tairāwhiti.

“Safe hospital services will be in place. However, there will be significant disruption to what planned services we can provide during the strike. A significant number of people who would normally receive planned surgery, treatment or a Consultant appointment won't next week.”

Over a normal three days, Gisborne Hospital would see around 350 people for outpatient appointments, treatments and surgery. “Next week we will focus on urgent and critical care through the strike period. We need to reduce the number of patients in the hospital over the period leading up to and during the proposed industrial action, deferring planned surgery and clinic visits. We realise this creates a lot of angst for our patients, but we have limited choice,” adds Dr Peters.

People who have their appointments rescheduled will receive a phone call and a follow-up letter. If people remain uncertain about their appointments through the strike period they should call 06 869 0500.

“This continued industrial action is disappointing particularly considering Hauora Tairāwhiti Registered Medical Officers (Junior Doctors) have worked safe rosters since 2014. Hauora Tairāwhiti was the first DHB to introduce split nights working only a maximum of four nights in a row and not working more than 10 days in a row - more than what RMOs are asking for nationally said Dr Peters.

Dr Peters said hospital doctors and managers have spent a lot of time on contingency planning to ensure patient safety over the 73 hours of the strike. “This will be the third time in four months we’ve had to shift all of our energy and a significant amount of time away from core business to cover the roster and assure patient safety. Although the second strike was called off in November, much of the planning had already been done.”

“We would like to assure all our patients that we are here if you need us. Our Emergency Department will be open for emergencies. Other medical staff will be available and we will be providing acute services. However during the strike dates, if your condition is not urgent or severe then I would encourage you to please contact your GP in the first instance or ring Healthline on 0800 311 116 — it's free and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”