INDEPENDENT NEWS

New Medical Strike Planned

Published: Tue 3 Dec 2002 05:39 PM
New Medical Strike Planned
Timaru Hospital's 31 senior medical staff are considering strike action at the beginning of February if South Canterbury DHB does not assuage their pay and working condition concerns, ACT Health Spokesman Heather Roy revealed today.
"After frustrated negotiations, they will have a vote by secret ballet to determine whether or not they will strike.
"Senior medical staff are saying enough, particularly in isolated provincial centres.
"It is extremely rare for senior staff to consider strike action. In doing so they are displaying their frustration with the current health system's inability to provide adequate staff coverage and ensure their ability to practice safely in an increasingly dicey work environment.
"The recent report on the Burton case by the Health and Disability Commissioner has highlighted that staff at the coalface will be held accountable for a health system that is failing patients and staff alike. Accountability seems to be a one-way street. Doctors are expected to take the rap when something goes wrong but the Minister of Health and her Ministry are able to wash their hands of a failure to provide a safe working environment for the thousands of health workers. The Minister has allocated only two percent to DHBs for pay increases, when staff shortages are due to our poorly performing dollar and cost of living increases of 2.6 percent.
"The South Canterbury specialists are the lowest paid in the country, despite the fact that they have an arduous on-call duty roster and are expected to cover a much wider range of services than their urban peers. Southland specialists last week announced the possibility of strike action but have agreed to arbitration on December 5.
"The Timaru specialists have also sought arbitration in an attempt to settle their concerns but management are refusing this avenue.
"Timaru Hospital doctors have said they will still cover acute and emergency care so that transfer of very sick patients would be averted," Mrs Roy said.

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