National 25 June 2018
Dear Member,

Welcome to the 10th 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

NZNO Nurses strike

We are still hopeful that DHBs will be able to move to an offer that would be acceptable to NZNO. However, ASMS members will now be deeply involved in preparations for the two national 24-hour strikes on 5 and 12 July.

On 12 June we sent out an ASMS Direct giving you information about the planned strikes. We have had a number of requests for clarification, some from DHBs and some from members. No information from ASMS will answer all questions or make an inherently difficult and challenging situation easy. If you are faced with a particular difficulty or need some advice, our industrial staff are happy to offer what advice we can. Questions that have been raised include:

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.


Kind regards,

Ian Powell