Hospitals across the country are coping well during the nurses’ strike, District Health Boards say.

The 24-hour strike began this morning at 7am, with 30,000 New Zealand Nurses’ Organisation members walking off the job.

District Health Boards spokeswoman Helen Mason said contingency plans across the country were going to plan.

“Emergency departments are relatively quiet and occupancy is slightly lower than expected.”

She said the focus was “absolutely” on patient, staff and community safety.

In the Hawkes Bay, where demand meant additional nurses were needed to provide life preserving services, more nurses came on to cover.

“Arrangements for life preserving services are working well and the national coordination centre is monitoring the situation closely. I want to thank the nurses working to provide life preserving cover and to all of the other people who are working to keep our communities safe.”

DHBs had now recieved recommendations from the Employment Relations Authority on how to solve the impasse.

“We can now look at how we can move into the future. We will be in contact with the union to agree on a path forward.”

Tairawhiti DHB chief executive Jim Green was on site when nurses walked out this morning.

“Being there as the nurses walked out, it was an orderly process. People were very helpful in this trying situation.”

He thanked union members for stepping up to provide life preserving services during the strike.

“It’s a major event and it is not something we wanted to have. We look forward to a resolution.”

Capital and Coast DHB chief medical advisor Dr John Tait said work done to prepare for the strike had helped the day run smoothly.

“The response today has been testament to months of work by the DHBs. I’d also like to thank health professionals for going the extra yard to help reduce hospital’s workload.”

He said as the strike approached the halfway point, he hoped contingency plans would continue to work.

“There are a few hours to go, we hope the plan continues to work so we can provide a safe haven for our communities.”

DHBs reiterated that anyone who needs urgent hospital care during the strike should not hesitate to go to hospital or call an ambulance.

The strike is due to finish at 7am Friday.

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