Hauora Tairāwhiti prepares for second junior doctors' strike action

Hauora Tairāwhiti is preparing contingency plans to minimise disruption to the public during the second planned nationwide strike of Resident Medical Officers (doctors in training) who are covered by the New Zealand Resident Doctors' Association (NZRDA) collective employment agreement.

The strike will occur from 0800 Tuesday, 29 January and end at 0800 Thursday, 31 January, 2019.

Debbie Barrow, Clinical Care Manager Medical/Mental Health and Contingency Planning Lead says patient safety is paramount during the strike period.

“We will continue to operate essential services such as our emergency department, emergency surgery and maternity care throughout the strike,” she says.

“In order to reduce demand on Gisborne Hospital it is likely we will reschedule some non-urgent elective surgeries, and some outpatient appointments on the strike day.”

Ms Barrow says all affected patients will be contacted directly by phone, and people should come to their scheduled appointment unless they have been contacted and advised otherwise.

“We apologise in advance for any disruption but this is a necessary measure to ensure we can concentrate on patients requiring urgent and emergency care during the strike period.”

She urges people not to delay seeking medical treatment if they need urgent medical assistance. 

For healthcare needs people should contact their GP, local pharmacy or call Healthline on 0800 611 116 for non-urgent needs, however always dial 111 or come to the hospital for emergencies.

Patients or other members of the public can also call Hauora Tairāwhiti on 0800 800 620 to check the status of their appointment.

Frequently asked questions:

Q.  How are you preparing for the strike?

Hauora Tairāwhiti has robust contingency management processes to ensure essential services remain available during strike action.  The contingency planning group is meeting daily and following a 14-day national contingency plan. With the reduced availability of up to 25 junior doctors, senior doctors will be doing the work of Resident Doctors.

Q. What is a Resident Medical Officer (RMO)?

An RMO is also known as a junior doctor, who is still in training. RMOs are important members of staff and perform a wide range of exams and procedures to ensure high quality patient care.

Q. Why are they going on strike?

The Resident Doctors’ collective agreement expired nearly a year ago, and the RDA union has been negotiating with national District Health Boards since then. An agreement on a variety of employment conditions has not been reached and therefore industrial action has been taken by the RDA.

Q. How many staff are affected?

Most hospital-based staff will be affected. Hauora Tairāwhiti employs 25 Resident Medical Officers, 19 of those are House Officers and 6 are Registrars.  With the reduced availability of up to 25 junior doctors, senior doctors will be doing the work of Resident Doctors. To enable them to do this some non-urgent services will be rescheduled. Other staff will be working on rescheduling appointments and actively planning to discharge inpatients.

Q. Will it be safe to come to hospital?

Yes. Meticulous planning has taken place to ensure specialist staff are available throughout the 48-hour period. Some non-urgent surgery and appointments will be rebooked to ensure there is adequate cover by Consultants.

Q. My surgery/hospital appointment is booked for that day?

If your appointment is disrupted, it will be rescheduled as soon as possible. If you have an appointment scheduled during this time and it needs to be changed, you will be notified directly - by telephone and then by letter confirming the rescheduled the change. You can phone 0800 800 620 for information.

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