Resident Doctors Association set to strike

It has been announced that the New Zealand Resident Doctors Association is going to strike. After prolonged contract negotiation’s around the subject of safer work rosters have failed to yield a result that the R.D.A. and its member Resident Medical Officer’s are happy to abide by, it has concluded that a strike is necessary to show the District Health Boards the gravity of the situation.

So who are the R.D.A. and why should this concern you?

You have probably never heard of them – and nor had I until now – but the R.D.A. is the parent union looking after R.M.O.’s, who have completed Medical School and are now training for whatever vocation they choose in the medical profession. R.M.O.’s are primarily based at a particular hospital, which is is their main training location. They are qualified doctors who might be a registrar, house surgeon, senior house officer or junior dental officer.

As for why this should concern you and myself is because no competent practicising professional in the medical profession ever wants to compromise the safety of themselves, their patients or their colleagues. A doctor who is any one or more of the following becomes a potential hazard to all of the above categories of people:

  • Stressed
  • Fatigued
  • Overworked
  • Under resourced

Some people will say that by striking the R.D.A. and its member R.M.O.’s are putting the very lives on the line that they claim to trying to protect. The accusation is based on the old notion that by being on a picket line instead of being at their work station, these professionals are endangering those they are looking after and their colleagues. This accusation is simply untrue. The medical profession is one that is under close and at times harsh public scrutiny. The very vast majority of the people in it are likely to be striving to do as best a job as they reasonably can. What goes on in the surgery, with the administration or the day to day care is often quite different from what managers in the field who might have little opportunity or interest in visiting field staff who deal with coal face issues day in day out, envisage. Because of this sometimes one side or the other has to make a stand just because there is a genuine fear, based on known events and factors that something with lasting consequences may happen.

The preparedness to strike is not something that would have been taken lightly. Nor is it likely to be a method that affected medical professionals will want to employ frequently, but if a strike is what it takes to prevent avoidable serious accidents in their profession and thus ensure maximum safety, so be it.

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