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Wairarapa DHB braces for strike

By Emily Norman

[email protected]

Working twelve days in a row, including 15-hour days, has taken a toll on a young Wairarapa doctor.

Courtney Brown, 24, has been a resident doctor for 10 months, mainly in Wellington, with the last six weeks at Wairarapa DHB.

She is one of 14 resident doctors at Wairarapa DHB and is the Wellington representative of the New Zealand Resident Doctors Association (NZRDA).

The NZDRA has threatened a 48-hour nationwide strike planned for later this month, pushing for “safer rosters and safer hours”.

The Wairarapa DHB is bracing itself for the strike and plans to notify patients who may be affected.

Dr Brown said the long working hours and 12-day stretches needed to be addressed by DHBs.

“We definitely think it’s an issue for our safety and the safety of our patients,” she said.

“For me personally, the thing I find hardest is that at the end of a 15-hour day, or at the end of working 12 days in a row, I feel a lot less empathetic and a lot less understanding.

“It’s harder to take time and patience with people, and harder to take time to care when you’re just working so hard to ensure you don’t make a mistake.”

It is hoped the strike action would enforce a “maximum of 10 days in a row as opposed to 12 and a maximum of four nights in a row as opposed to the current maximum of seven” for resident doctors, Dr Brown said.

Wairarapa DHB boss Adri Isbister. PHOTO/FILE
Wairarapa DHB boss Adri Isbister. PHOTO/FILE

Wairarapa DHB Chief Executive Adri Isbister said planning for the strike was underway at Wairarapa Hospital to ensure life-and-limb preserving services remained available to patients.

“Unfortunately, in order to ensure patient safety during the strike action, we may have to look to reschedule non-urgent surgery and appointments,” Mrs Isbister said.

“We will be in contact with individual patients who may be affected ahead of the strike action.”

Mrs Isbister said DHBs had not been made aware of any risks from fatigue and that it was a requirement of all employees to report any events of concern.

“Patient safety is critical and anything adverse is acted upon immediately,” she said.

DHBs and the NZRDA were in negotiation yesterday where a revised offer was tabled for union members.

It included a salary increase, a lump sum payment, and roster improvements including a “commitment to address the issue of rosters providing instances where RMOs might be rostered to work for 12 consecutive days”.

The strike, announced on Tuesday by NZRDA, is planned to run from 7am on Tuesday October 18 until 7am on Thursday October 20.

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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