Attention: Health Reporter
Media Statement For Immediate Release,
monday 18 December 2006
“Patient Safety Change Applauded”
“The decision of the government to amend the health sector code of good faith to confirm and clarify its original intention is to be applauded and Minister of Labour Ruth Dyson is commended for her positive initiative,” said Mr Ian Powell, Executive Director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, today.
“It was always the intention of health unions affiliated to the Council of Trade Unions, including the Association, that contingency plans for life preserving services during a strike should include risk of permanent disability. However, this is ambiguous under the Employment Relations Act. Rightly or wrongly, during the recent laboratory workers strike, district health boards believed that risk of permanent disability was not covered by the Act. This helped place undue pressure on senior doctors.”
“This explicit clarification in the amended schedule to the Employment Relations Act will go a long way to better protect the right to strike in the health sector which is an essential service. It should help allay some of the understandable but misplaced criticisms of health sector strikes. It should also assist the work of senior doctors who have to make many difficult judgment calls during industrial disputes.”
“The right to strike is a critical and responsible last resort that health professionals and other employees sometimes need in response to belligerent behaviour from their health bosses. However, this right is undermined and weakened if it means legitimising the loss of a limb or some other permanent disability,” concluded Mr Powell.