By: Emma Russell

From 7am today, hospitals from around the country were without 3300 junior doctors for the next 48 hours – around 80 per cent of DHB-employed junior doctors.

This morning the doctors – some who had come straight off a night shift – were making noise about their working rights.

Medical registrar Patrick O’Regan – a third-year junior doctor at Auckland City Hospital – said 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 told the Herald.

The 26-year-old said under current negotiations, that had been underway for the last year, DHBs could make junior doctors work 16 or more hours in a row and move the employees to any hospital in the country with little notice.

“Already it’s common for us to work 10 to 12 days in a row with a couple of 15 to 16-hour shifts packed in.”

However, DHBs say they “strongly dispute” these claims.

DHB spokesman Dr Peter Bramley said it was untrue for the union to say the DHB wanted to move junior doctors around the country at will.

“Rosters across multiple hospitals in non-urban areas and any combined duty and on-call period of more than 16 consecutive hours currently requires the approval of the RDA.”

O’Regan said although DHBs have said approval of the RDA will be required, DHBs will have the finally say.

“So they could say you’ll be doing six months in Auckland and then six months in Hawke’s Bay with no say.”

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