Historic strike action is planned by 21 GPs employed across the five Wellington practices run by iwi health provider Ora Toa Primary Health.

The GPs voted to walk off the job for five one-hour stoppages from 9am on December 7, 10, 13, 18 and 19 December followed by a full day strike on 24 December.

The salaried GPs are all employed by Te Rūnanga O Toa Rangatira who run the Ora Toa Primary Health Organisation (PHO) and all are members of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS).

Lloyd Woods, senior industrial officer at ASMS said the action is in support of their two dentist colleagues who are fellow ASMS members but were being blocked from joining the same collective agreement.

“We believe it is the first time in New Zealand that salaried GPs in a practice have taken industrial action, and the GPs involved in this dispute regret that they’ve been put in this position. It’s a ‘first’ that no one wants,” said Woods.

“Ora Toa’s refusal is inexplicable and unfair,” he said. “The collective agreement provides important protections for GPs and of course their dental colleagues should be equally protected. It’s worth noting that dentists are covered by other collective agreements negotiated by ASMS, including the main agreement covering senior doctors and dentists in the country’s 20 DHBs.”

Health Central is seeking comment from Te Rūnanga o Toa Rangatira CEO Tā Matiu Rei  and PHO manager Te Iringa Davies. It is understood that almost all of the PHOs GPs are ASMS members.

ASMS said Ora Toa established the dental service in the Porirua suburb of Cannons Creek in 2008 as was one of five Maori health providers to receive Ministry of Health support after presenting a business case.

“These practices provide essential dental treatment for their local communities, which include some of the most disadvantaged people in the country,” said Woods.

“They have rightly received accolades for this work, including from ASMS. It makes it even more baffling that they are refusing to recognise their dentists as part of the medical team providing holistic care for the practices’ patients.

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