After mediation failed on Monday, the NZNO and DHBs are urgently seeking facilitation through the Employment Relations Authority to try and solve the ongoing impasse and avert the planned 24-hour strike by tens of thousands of nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants.

The DHBS and NZNO put out a joint statement this afternoon saying that both parties have now agreed on a process of ensuring there were enough nurses and midwives with the right specialist skills to provide emergency and essential services as required.

Under the Code of good faith for public health sector, the union has a legal requirement to ensure that life-preserving services (LPS) are available to prevent a serious threat to life or permanent disability during any strike action.

DHBs will continue to provide essential and emergency services but public hospitals around the country are contacting patients to defer elective surgery and other non-urgent procedures and appointments in the lead-up, during and immediately after the planned July 5 nurses’ strike to reduce the number of non-acute hospital admissions. This afternoon NZNO also issued the expected strike notice for the second planned 24-hour strike on July 12.

The joint statement said the key point was that emergency and essential services would be available during the strike and all doctors and non-NZNO staff would come to work as normal.

NZNO nurses nominated to be LPS responders would not perform normal duties during the 24-hour strike but will be available to provide LPS services if needed. If there is a major event – such as a natural disaster or an accident with multiple casualties – there is also a mechanism for increasing the number of LPS responders.

The statement said what LPS would be provided during the strike would vary from DHB to DHB, but would include:

  • emergency care and surgery, including emergency departments, intensive and acute or critical care units for children and adults
  • paediatric wards and maternity units
  • therapeutic services without which life would be put at risk; for example, some paediatric, oncology and renal services
  • urgent diagnoses on conditions that could threaten life or cause permanent disability; for example, lumbar punctures for meningitis, blood tests for critically ill adults and children
  • intervention to prevent permanent disability; for example, setting broken bones or preventing falls.

Both parties reiterated that people in need of hospital care should not delay going to ED or calling 111 during the planned strike. For non-urgent medical matters, people are encouraged to contact their GPs, local pharmacists or call Healthline (0800 611 116).

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