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Strike Action In Hospitals To Continue

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Fuseworks Media
Strike Action In Hospitals To Continue

By Hana Garrett-Walker for NZPA

Wellington, Oct 20 NZPA - Industrial action by radiographers and lab workers will continue despite District Health Boards saying patients are being put at risk.

The action has moved past low level industrial action which has not just inconvenienced patients, DHBs representative Karen Roach said at a media conference this morning.

DHBs pulled out of contract negotiations with the union representing radiographers and laboratory workers after a deadline was missed yesterday.

"The key thing here is that it (the industrial action) is impacting on patients."

Some of those impacts listed by Auckland DHB included two patients who had their scans deferred had since presented with inoperable liver cancer,

Others affected included 600 patients waiting for CT services, and 50 patients with renal stones were awaiting surgery because medical radiation technologists would not operate the image intensifier on the days available.

Bernadette Gourley, spokeswoman for the Association of Professionals and Executive Employees, which represents radiographers, said she could not say whether these figures were true.

"However, the fact that there are people on waiting lists all around New Zealand [is] true."

She said the waiting lists would lengthen as long as the strike action continued.

But, they (the workers) had not decided on an end point with their industrial action and they would not give in, she said.

"The responsibility also lies with the DHBs.

"How many millions of dollars are [the DHBs] willing to spend on the strike?"

Industrial action may be escalated because of the DHBs' action, she said.

Radiographers have issued nearly 600 strike notices in the past three months after turning down an offer of a pay increase of 1 percent in April and a further 1 percent increase this month.

The radiographers' union Apex had asked for backdated pay as well as time in lieu for professional development courses.

Ms Roach said the DHBs did not accept statements from Apex that there was only $200,000 separating the two parties and said it was more like $1.8 million.

"We remain ready and willing to meet with Apex to explore settlement options, but after October 19 this offer is off the table. DHBs have not found any particular recruitment or retention difficulties with this workforce that would warrant making them a special case.

"Most of their fellow health sector employees recognise the reality of the financial situation facing the sector. Why can't this union?"

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