DHB spokesman Dr Peter Bramley says DHBs have been in mediation looking for ways to settle the current pay round and prevent disrupting some patient services.

“DHBs have always bargained in good faith with the RDA and were looking forward to discussions about how to reach an agreement.

“Unfortunately, the RDA had no new suggestions on the DHBs proposals to address the crucial issues of supporting local flexibility in rostering to provide better care and training.

“It’s hard to find a solution when the RDA is already balloting for more strikes in February – that’s hardly good faith and suggests it had already made up its mind to keep striking.”

However the RDA disputes this saying it made a number of suggestions to resolve the impasse. It suggested the DHBs withdraw their clawbacks and rollover the current contract with the standard salary adjustments that are being offered to all health practitioners (effectively 3% per annum over 4 years).

The RDA says it offered a change to the safer hours provision that would allow more flexible rostering (whilst maintaining the key safety components).

It suggested accepting the offer from the outgoing chair of the Medical Council to assist with working through any issues that may still arise, and it invited the DHBs to join an initiative between union ASMS and the RDA to address any unintended consequences of schedule 10 (the safer hours provision).

“In effect, we took every claim off the table but that was not enough. Whilst the DHBs will offer the same pay rise as others have received in health, they will only do so if NZRDA gives up existing provisions that protect RMOs” said David Munro, Senior Advocate for NZRDA.

“We are beyond frustrated at the fixed position of the DHBs demanding we give up essential clauses in our contract that safeguard our members and now have no alternative but to continue on with planned strike action” says David Munro.

Dr Bramley says hospitals have been making contingencies in preparation for the strikes and will notify any affected patients.

“Essential and emergency services will be maintained during the strike next Tuesday and Wednesday and people should not delay seeking medical treatment if needed.

“We will do what we can to find a way through this dispute.

“The issues at stake for DHBs are crucial to supporting the way patient care is delivered at a local level.

“Quality patient care that provides meaningful training in a safe environment is something we all want, and DHBs will eventually find a settlement that will help us provide that.”

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