By: Emma Russell

Junior doctor strikes have cost district health boards more than $19 million and are causing significant delays for elective surgeries.

Tomorrow, Auckland DHB is due to discuss the number of elective surgeries cancelled and postponed due to the strike action, saying it’s had a huge impact on waiting times.

“There remains a significant risk with the position deteriorating further if increased strike action is planned from the NZRDA and further risk of action from the Public Service Association,” director of surgical services Arend Merrie said in the agenda for tomorrow’s meeting.

This comes as RNZ revealed strikes by junior doctors have cost 16 out of 20 DHBs $19.3m for cover by senior doctors since mid-January.

South Auckland’s Counties Manukau DHB had paid out the most, with $2.45m, followed by Capital and Coast DHB, which paid the senior doctors $2.3m over the five strikes. Auckland DHB was next, paying $1.91m.

This year, junior doctors from around the country have walked off the job five times in a bid to keep the terms of their contract that prevents them from working 16 hours in a row without guaranteed breaks.

Medical registrar Patrick O’Regan – a third-year junior doctor at Auckland City Hospital – told the Herald in January it wasn’t about the pay.

“These are issues of staffing and wellbeing for us. This is about safety of staff and patients,” O’Regan said.

But still health board bosses are yet to budge. A ruling from the Employment Relations Authority is expected soon following eight days of mediation.

Source: NZ Herald

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