While contingency plans for the three-day residential doctors association’s strike are proving effective, the strike will have a longer-term impact, says Southern DHB Interim Chief Executive Chris Fleming.

“We are very pleased with how well the contingency plans in place are going. Patient safety is our priority and our clinical and support staff are providing the best care possible in these circumstances,” Mr Fleming says.

788 outpatient appointments (620 at Dunedin Hospital and 168 at Southland Hospital) and 63 elective treatments and procedures (48 in Dunedin and 15 in Southland Hospital) have had to be postponed as a result of the junior doctors’ strike. Nationally, the numbers are in the thousands. 

“The strike might end on Friday, but its impact goes well beyond this week, affecting hundreds of people in our district who need medical treatments,” Mr Fleming says. “Many patient appointments have already been rescheduled and we’ll do our best to continue to accommodate patients affected by the strike. But it will take months to make up for the missed clinical time and specialist appointments.”

Patients whose appointments or procedures have been postponed by the strike have been contacted directly by the Southern DHB staff.

If patients have any questions, they can call the telephone number on their original referral/appointment letter. It is helpful if they can have the NHI number available, which can usually be found at the top of the referral letter. Phone lines are open from 9am - 5pm.

RMOs or junior doctors at DHBs across New Zealand began a 73-hour strike at 7am this morning. There are more than 3000 junior doctors employed by DHBs across the country. Of the 271 RMOs working for the Southern DHB, 75% are participating in the strike action.

“Senior medical officers and all medical staff are doing an amazing job. There is good work going on in our hospitals,” Mr Fleming says.

Hospitals remain open during the strike and emergency departments, urgent and acute care services are still being provided. 

Southern DHB reminds the public to seek medical help if it is required.  In addition to their own GPs and urgent doctors clinics, HealthLine 0800 611 116 can provide medical advice. In cases of emergency, 111 is still available.