Resident Medical Officers (RMOs), or junior doctors, who are NZRDA members intend to strike for 48 hours from 8am on Tuesday, 12 February until 8am on Thursday, 14 February, while midwives who are members of MERAS have planned a 12-hour strike, from 9.01am to 9.01pm, on Wednesday, 13 February.
MDHB Chief Executive Kathryn Cook said the main priority for MDHB in the build-up to the strike period was the creation of a comprehensive plan to ensure the safety of patients and staff during and directly after the strikes.
Ms Cook said: “A contingency planning team comprised of managers and clinical leaders is carefully reviewing all MDHB services to ascertain what we can provide in a safe and efficient manner over this period. We are also working with both MERAS and NZRDA to make sure emergency and life preserving services (LPS) will be available during the strike periods”.
While emergency and acute services will continue as normal, a number of elective services such as operations, procedures and outpatient clinics will be postponed. Patients who have appointments affected by the strike will be contacted directly and an alternative appointment time arranged.
“We ask that people keep the emergency department free for emergencies. If your health condition is not an emergency, there are several other options including Healthline, your general practice team and the district’s after-hours services,” Ms Cook said.
A list of alternative healthcare options is available under the strike section of the MDHB website -www.midcentraldhb.govt.nz.
MDHB Executive Director of Nursing and Midwifery Celina Eves said women preparing for childbirth should not delay seeking advice and care and should come to any scheduled appointments unless contacted beforehand to have it postponed.
Ms Eves said: “The safety of mothers and their babies is of paramount importance to us. The maternity unit at Palmerston North Hospital and maternity services at Horowhenua Health Centre will be open and there will be a midwife available at all times during the strikes.
“If you go into labour during the strike, please follow your normal birth plan and seek assistance from your lead maternity carer.”
Ms Cook said: “The patience and understanding from the public during previous periods of strike action was very much appreciated, and we sincerely hope this goodwill extends to this next round of industrial action.”
“The DHB respects the right of both junior doctors and midwives to take these strike actions. We have also appreciated how incredibly supportive and flexible staff who have worked have been over this disruptive period.”
A freephone number, 0800 PNHOSP (764 677), is available for anyone with questions or who requires further information. Updates and further advice with regards to the location of acute clinics and treatment options is also available from the MDHB website: www.midcentraldhb.govt.nz