The Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS) is relieved that the Employment Relations Authority will undertake a facilitation of the long-running industrial dispute between the 20 district health boards (DHBs) and the Resident Doctors’ Association (RDA) representing resident (junior) doctors.

Facilitation is a provision in the Employment Relations Act which enables the Employment Relations Authority, on application from an employer or union, to intervene in a collective agreement negotiation. The RDA applied to the Authority for facilitation and, was supported by the DHBs.

Ian Powell, Executive Director of ASMS says the dispute has been “bitter and divisive”.

“It is doing long-term damage to relationships which risk further increasing the high level (around 20%) of specialist shortages in public hospitals,” says Mr Powell.

“It’s been clear for some time that external involvement of this sort would be needed to break the impasse between the DHBs and the resident (junior) doctors.

“It’s to be hoped that calmer heads will prevail in sorting out this dispute from here on.

“Hospital specialists will be very relieved to hear the issues are going to be heard by an independent facilitator. They’ve been struggling to cope with increased workloads and stress as a result of this protracted, acrimonious dispute.”

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