NATIONAL 18 April 2019
Dear Member,

Welcome to the 7th issue for 2019 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

Five-day RDA strike from 29 April

The Resident Doctors’ Association has given notice of a five day strike by DHB-employed RMOs from 8am Monday 29 April. The strike will continue until 8am Saturday 4 May and cover all DHBs except Canterbury ( ASMS is acutely aware of the enormous pressure SMOs in particular will be under as a result of this escalating dispute and recognises your commitment to patient care and safety during this unprecedented time.

ASMS advice to members is available online at

Please note that this includes details of the agreement reached between ASMS and the 20 DHBs on remuneration and other arrangements during the strike:

If you need advice or support during this stressful time, please contact your ASMS industrial officer – we are here to help as much as we can.

A list of ASMS industrial officers for each region is at and you are also welcome to ring our national office on 04 499 1271.

‘Facilitation’ to resolve the dispute

We were greatly relieved to hear that the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) is to facilitate in this long-running and acrimonious dispute, and we are hopeful that calmer heads will help both parties reach a resolution.

Facilitation is a provision in the Employment Relations Act which allows the ERA, on application from an employer or union, to intervene in a collective agreement negotiation that has gone off the rails. It is a persuasive form of non-binding arbitration. In this case, the RDA applied to the ERA for facilitation. The DHBs’ original submission opposed the application but they ended up doing a U-turn to support it.

I have written further on this matter for the Health Central website (

The ERA has yet to determine when it will conduct the facilitation. It had been hoped that it would have been heard on 15 April but this did not happen. There is urgency to this and ASMS hopes it will be held prior to the five day strike with the aspiration that it might lead to an outcome that enables the strike not to proceed. But this is outside our control and the clock is ticking.

Too tired?

ASMS members need to look after themselves and their patients during this industrial dispute. An SMO can refuse to work if the SMO believes she or he is not safe to practise. If you are not safe to practise because of fatigue, you must not treat patients.

The full ASMS Advice on recovery time is at

Kind regards

Ian Powell