Lakes DHB hospitals prepared for third 48-hour RMOs' strike
8/02/2019 12:48:06 p.m.

Friday 8 February 2019

Rotorua and Taupo Hospitals prepared for third 48-hours strike by RMOs

Resident medical officers (junior doctors) who are members of the NZ Resident Doctors’ Association are striking for a third 48 hour period, from 8.00am Tuesday 12 February until 8.00am Thursday 14 February.

Lakes DHB employs some 93 junior doctors, with most of them members of the RDA. The RMOs are doctors from the first years after graduating to registrars in advanced stages of their training.

Contingency planning is well advanced and focusses on ensuring the continuing provision of essential emergency services including acute surgery, emergency department care, intensive care, and maternity care.

The DHB's approach with this major strike action is to:
1. Cancel most elective or scheduled surgery. The affected patients are all being contacted individually and rescheduled.
2. Cancel many outpatient clinics for the two days. These patients are being contacted individually and rescheduled.
3. Any patients uncertain of the status of their appointment can ring 0800 223 647 to check.

Acting Chief Executive Nick Saville-Wood says the planning and support of a range of staff is really appreciated and has ensured a robust contingency plan to manage emergency hospital services over the two days. He says any decisions about changes to services have been made to allow clinical staff to focus on those in most need.

Most elective services and many outpatient clinics have been postponed, with Lakes DHB staff contacting affected patients to let them know, and rebook them. Any patients uncertain of the status of their appointment can ring 0800 223 647 to check.

Nick Saville-Wood says the safety of patients and staff is the main focus of the contingency planning team.

“The proposed industrial action will mean that people’s healthcare plans may be affected. Any changes to our hospital operations are considered necessary to ensure that the safety of our patients in need is not compromised and that those people needing urgent health care over the two strike days will receive that care.” said Nick Saville-Wood.

DHBs are continuing to talk to the union to try and settle these negotiations and prevent industrial action.

Only urgent cases will be able to be dealt with at the emergency departments at Rotorua and Taupo Hospitals during the 48-hour strike.

Members of the public are being reminded to make sure they are up to date with their prescriptions and other requirements, and if they get into difficulty, they should make their GP their first port of call. People can also contact Healthline 0800 611 116 for advice and information from a trusted registered nurse, 24/7.

Members of the NZ Resident Doctors’ Association went on strike for 48 hours from Tuesday 15 January to Thursday 17 January and then a second time from 29-31 January.

Nick Saville-Wood says the DHB is very grateful to everyone who helped during the two previous NZRDA strikes to ensure patient safety and the smooth running of the Lakes DHB hospitals.

He says DHB staff are spending significant blocks of time on contingency planning in the lead up to each strike and this has resulted in robust plans and processes for managing strike action.

But he says the amount of industrial action facing the DHB involving a number of unions is having a snowball effect on the amount of work needed to ensure patients affected by strike action are rescheduled and can receive their treatment in a timely fashion. He adds that all this work is placing additional burden on a range of staff across the DHB.