NATIONAL 3 May 2019
Dear Member,

Welcome to the 8th issue for 2019 of ASMS Direct, our national electronic publication. 

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ASMS-RDA Memorandum of Understanding

ASMS and the Resident Doctors Association (RDA) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to jointly address unintended consequences arising from the implementation of Schedule 10 of the MECA covering DHB-employed RDA members.

The MoU has been signed by ASMS National President Professor Murray Barclay and NZRDA President Dr Courtney Brown, and was witnessed by the then Chair of the Medical Council of New Zealand, Mr Andrew Connolly.

The purpose is to assist SMOs and RMOs to resolve concerns over existing unintended consequences at the workplace level as much as possible, but with the opportunity to take these to a higher level where necessary. We have written to the DHBs nationally to invite them to join the MoU, with whatever consequential tweaks to the document needed. We are awaiting their response. Without the DHBs as a third party to the MoU, its status will be more moral and organisational rather than legal. In the meantime, ASMS hopes that individually DHBs will support making good use of it locally.

The MoU is a significant document for both unions as it outlines a process to resolve issues arising from efforts to address RMO fatigue and achieve safer working hours. It explicitly acknowledges there are unintended consequences of Schedule 10, primarily around continuity of training, clinical handover and patient care.

Our approach to resolving issues related to the implementation of Schedule 10 is based on the need for consensus-based co-design rather than relying on contractual mechanisms to force a resolution. As we say in the MoU, we believe this recognises the strong foundation of integrity and professionalism in the relationship between those doctors who are training, and the doctors who train and supervise them.

An important aspect of the MoU is its explicit recognition of the unacceptable, unsafe and vulnerable state of the SMO workforce, which is characterised by serious shortages, the burden of increased work, extraordinarily high levels of burnout and presenteeism, and a retention crisis. It is up to the Government and DHBs to address these urgent matters.

With the next stage of the bitter industrial dispute between the DHBs and RDA shifting to ‘facilitation’ (non-binding but persuasive arbitration) by the Employment Relations Authority, ASMS hopes that this MoU will also be a circuit-breaker. The MoU shows how a non-adversarial approach can succeed whereas the DHBs ‘winner-take-all’ approach, with the objective of achieving full chief executive control, can and has backfired.

Please have a good read of the MoU, and we welcome your thoughts and feedback. If your service has a Schedule 10 roster that has led to unintended consequences which you and your colleagues believe need to be addressed, you may wish to consider contacting your relevant ASMS industrial officer for advice.

The document is on the ASMS website at

Kind regards,

Ian Powell