National 11 July 2018
Dear Member,

Welcome to the 12th issue for 2018 of ASMS Direct, our national electronic publication.

You can also keep in touch with the latest news and views on health issues relevant to public hospital specialists via our website, which contains links (at the top of the home page) to our Facebook and LinkedIn pages, as well as our quarterly magazine The Specialist. We’re also on Twitter at

Nurses’ strike tomorrow – ASMS advice to members

Nurses working for district health boards have voted to strike tomorrow (Thursday 12 July) after rejecting the latest pay offer from DHBs. The 24-hour strike will run from 7am tomorrow until 7am on Friday (

ASMS has previously provided advice to members in a National Direct sent to you on 25 June, but it is worth repeating that advice here ahead of tomorrow’s strike. It may not answer all of your questions but you are welcome to contact our industrial staff if you have anything further to ask or you are faced with a particular difficulty.

Should all elective services be cancelled?

Yes. Even where the staff may be available to provide a service, back up for services may be adversely affected by the strike. DHBs are rescheduling electives in advance so the wards are as empty as possible on the day. The day should be planned to be like a non-festive Christmas Day.

Should SMOs volunteer to work additional hours during the strike?

This is your call. You cannot be compelled to cover the work of a striking nurse. The life preserving services (LPS) agreements that your DHB will have with NZNO should ensure that patients are protected from permanent harm or threat to life.

What would be a fair rate of pay for any hours beyond your normal hours you agree to do?

Our recommendation is that additional work arising from the strike should be paid for as follows:

  • a minimum T2 of your normal hourly rate for any work requested by the employer which is work in addition to (either before or after) normal hours of work for that day
  • a minimum T2 of your normal hourly rate for any clinical work requested where the SMO would otherwise have been on non-clinical duties, and the non-clinical duties have not been re-scheduled. This rate is inclusive of normal pay, so is in effect T1 in addition to normal pay.

The above rates are based on the principle set out at Clause 13.4 of the SMO MECA for covering an RMO absence, but based on an SMO’s actual hourly rate of pay.

Should SMOs do nurses’ work?


DHBs and NZNO will have agreements for the provision of life preserving services (LPS) so as to protect lives and avoid permanent harm.

However, reality is messy and members have raised some issues where both doctors and nurses might undertake similar work as part of their normal duties. These duties need to be within your scope of practice (this is the position of the Medical Council). You need to be familiar with, and trained in the relevant procedures. Don’t do anything you are not comfortable with.

ACC proposal unlawful and breaches health and safety

ASMS is seeking an urgent injunction from the Employment Relations Authority to stop ACC proceeding with a change proposal we consider flawed, unfair, and causing unnecessary stress for affected staff.

The proposal includes plans to disestablish about 60 medical advisory positions, resulting in about 6.4 FTE redundancies, with many of the jobs ultimately having to be retained. ASMS is concerned about ACC’s cavalier approach to staff concerns about the future of their jobs.

Our full media release is at

Did you know…?

As a DHB employee, you’re entitled to reasonable leave on full pay “on the bereavement of someone with whom you have a close association”.

Your entitlement is found in MECA Clause 27.1 and is not limited in time( eg, to only three days) or to the death of a close or immediate family member. Each case should be considered sensitively and recognise your particular culture, family responsibilities and travel requirements. There is no obligation on you to ‘make up’ any clinics, after-hours call or weekend shifts missed during bereavement leave.

More information is in clause 27 of the DHB MECA:


Kind regards

Ian Powell