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Hundreds Of Radiography Patients Add To Backlog After Strike

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Hundreds Of Radiography Patients Add To Backlog After Strike

Hundreds of patients have added to the backlog of people waiting for images and surgery during a national radiographers' strike.

Radiographers walked off the job on Friday after 11th hour talks with District Health Board (DHB) representatives failed to break a contract negotiation deadlock.

Central Auckland hospitals appeared to be coping with the three-day strike, which finished today.

Members of the radiographers' union Apex agreed to be available for life-preserving and limb-preserving work.

Auckland DHB spokesman Matthew Rogers said disruption had been limited.

Elective surgery was cancelled at Auckland and Starship hospitals to try to cope with the strike.

But chief medical officer Margaret Wilsher said there was a huge backlog of patients waiting for images and surgery.

Ms Wilsher has been looking after patients who have been affected by the strike and helping provide care at Auckland Hospital.

She told NZPA that radiographers would be taking the day off tomorrow and would join in national strike action on Tuesday, before preparing for a Labworkers strike on Friday.

"We won't be gearing up our hospital until all this industrial unrest has settled down.

"We've only got six non-union staff in total, and we've been using them during the day and calling life-preserving services in the evening and at night.

"People can only have imaging if it's life or limb threatening. So there are a lot of people sitting around who have not had imaging this weekend, which has made it very difficult from a clinical decision-making perspective.

"There's a huge backlog because this has been going on for two months already, so we've already got hundreds of people waiting for images and surgery," Ms Wilsher said.

Two different unions are involved in the strike -- Medical Laboratory Workers and Medical Radiation Technologists.

"There have been rolling strikes throughout the country from both radiation technologists and laboratory workers for the past three months. A full nationwide strike will happen on Tuesday for radiation technologists, and more than one DHB will be affected by the Labworkers strike on Friday," Ms Wilsher said.

Bernadette Gourley, spokeswoman for the radiographers' union, Apex, said the workers had hoped the three-day strike action would not be necessary and that negotiations with the DHBs yesterday would result in a settlement, but these had been unproductive.

"There have been no issues or problems around the strike. The low level action has continued around the rest of New Zealand this weekend, with no problems.

"The day off from strike action tomorrow in Auckland is just the way it's worked out. All around New Zealand, the DHBs are doing different levels of strike action on a rolling basis. Auckland decided to withdraw their services for three days on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

"Because of the suspensions of radiographers two weeks ago at Auckland and Counties Manukau, radiographers around New Zealand decided to put in an immediate notice of a national day of striking.

"We had to give 14 days' notice, and September 7 was the soonest we could do it. The timing of a day off between the end of Auckland's strike and the national strike was just down to the timing of the notice. It wasn't to get through the backlog of patients," Ms Gourley said.

A nationwide strike on Tuesday is expected to affect hundreds more at hospitals throughout the country.

Christchurch radiographers abandoned their strike action following the massive earthquake yesterday morning.

Radiographers, or x-ray, image and scan specialists, were scheduled to undertake a partial strike in Christchurch yesterday, but all ensured they were at work to help with any patients needing treatment.

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