Statement from Chris Fleming, Chief Executive, Southern DHB:

Our hospitals are coping well with the first day of the five-day strike by NZRDA members and the contingency plans in place are very effective.

My sincere thanks to all staff for their hard work in advance of today’s strike and for continuing to keep patient safety as the priority.

Anyone whose planned surgery or appointment is being postponed due to the NZRDA strike will be contacted directly by phone, text or letter.

Our hospitals are open for acute services —such as cancer treatments, renal dialysis, urgent surgeries and most maternity services. Our emergency departments have been busy but manageable. Some planned or elective procedures and outpatient clinics are also continuing where staffing levels permit.

I would like to remind patients - particularly those that are high needs or older persons with chronic health conditions - that they should come to hospital if they feel unwell and need help.

For non-urgent care, we encourage people to first seek help at your GP or pharmacist, the urgent doctors or speak to a registered nurse by calling Healthline on 0800 611 116. For critical and life threatening emergencies, dial 111.