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By: Laura Wiltshire

“Tired doctors make mistaeks” was just one of the signs junior doctors held up as they picketed outside Hawke’s Bay Hospital this morning.

One of those on strike, Sam McConville, said morale among his colleagues at the hospital could be summed up by the word “frustration”.

“The frustration comes from the concrete stance the DHB has been taking with wanting to claw back these provisions that we have fought for over the years.”

Another doctor, Alex Hedley , said after close to a year of negotiations, they were striking to keep their current contract, rather than see it made worse, with what he called DHB clawbacks.

“The DHBs are clawing back, taking back what we’ve had in our collective agreement for 15 years or more.”

He said DHBs wanted to be able to move junior doctors to different hospitals around the country to cover worker shortages.

He said they also wanted to negotiate directly with the junior doctors, rather than through the unions.

He said it put them in a weaker position and left them open to being “intimidated”.

He said they were negotiating with the chief executives of the DHBs, who were the highest paid in the healthcare system.

“The 20 highest paid people in our health system are making decision to worsen conditions for doctors and they don’t even look at patients, and they think they know what’s happening. They are quite out of touch.”

He said junior doctors wanted to have a good relationship with the DHBs, and hoped the feeling was mutual.

Chief Executive of Nelson/Marlborough DHB Peter Bramley, who is in charge of negotiations with the residents, said if that was their understanding of the offer, then “no wonder negotiations are going nowhere”.

He said DHBs were trying to introduce flexibility and let doctors decide how best to manage the care of their patients.

The strike started at 8am today, and will end at 8am on Thursday.

Hawke’s Bay Hospital will remain open for the duration of the strike.

Chief Medical and Dental Officer Dr John Gommans said the priority was to continue to provide safe quality care during the strike period.

Some outpatient services and surgeries have been postponed due to the strike, but the Emergency Department remains open. However, the DHB is asking people to contact their GP for all non-urgent requirements to take pressure off the system.

Junior doctors are asking to retain the conditions of their current contract, plus a 3 per cent pay rise each year for three years.

Source: NZ Herald

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