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Thousands Of Patients Affected As Hospital Staff Up The Ante

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Thousands Of Patients Affected As Hospital Staff Up The Ante

Wellington, Aug 30 NZPA - Industrial action by hospital workers is expected to affect thousands of patients around the country over the coming weeks as elective surgery is cancelled, surgical bookings postponed, and some emergency services limited.

Radiographers are expected to continue their industrial action until at least September 24, while lab workers could continue theirs until September 16.

Auckland DHB spokesman Mark Fenwick said the matter was complicated by the two sectors both striking at the same time and upping their level of action to total withdrawal of labour on several days.

"We hope to resume elective surgery as soon as we can but that depends on whether or not we get any more strike notices.

"We are winding down the hospital operation, essentially," he said.

The Medical Laboratory Workers Union said it was a coincidence that its strike action had occurred at the same time as radiographers.

Auckland radiographers, represented by the Apex union, are next due to go on strike for three days from Friday.

They again go on strike as part of nationwide action on September 7.

Auckland Hospital has cancelled all elective surgery from today and will continue to do so until the unions representing radiographers and hospital laboratory workers settle their separate national pay disputes with District Health Boards (DHBs) throughout the country.

Waikato DHB will postpone some surgical bookings to cope with next Tuesday's nationwide strike by union staff who provide x-ray, scans and other radiology services.

Waikato DHB will this week contact those people likely to be affected.

The strike action will also affect emergency department services.

People attending hospital emergency departments on September 7 would only be able to access x-ray and scan services in severe or life-preserving situations, Waikato Hospital chief medical adviser Dr Tom Watson said.

Waikato Hospital's cardiac surgery bookings have been cancelled from mid-week.

Apex spokeswoman Robyn Slater said last week the union and DHBs had agreed on two pay increases of 1 percent by October, but there were other issues still on the table.

The nationwide strike would be withdrawn if the issues were resolved, she said.

Lab workers have been offered two pay rises of 1 percent over the next two years.

DHBs spokeswoman Karen Roach said last week that DHBs had been responsive to the union claims at the bargaining table.

However, they were operating in extremely tight financial circumstances.

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