National 5 October 2016
Dear Member,

Welcome to the eighth issue for 2016 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

Resident doctors strike action

By now members will be aware that, following a mandate from its members, the New Zealand Resident Doctors’ Association (NZRDA) has called a two-day national strike of RMOs from 7am Tuesday 18 October till 7am Thursday 20 October. This is a lawful strike in support of their MECA negotiations, for which the NZRDA has given the required 14 days’ notice. It is not for ASMS to endorse or oppose the strike but we certainly recognise they, like all unions and union members, have a legitimate right to strike in support of negotiations for a collective agreement.

We expect the strike to go ahead and know this will cause some difficulty for some of our members who will be called upon to do additional work and change some of their hours of work.  We expect DHBs to cancel clinics and all elective work during the strike. Nevertheless, many ASMS members will be required to take on additional and different duties, including in some cases changing their hours and even working on site overnight. For this they will be entitled to additional pay over and above their normal salary for the period.

As we have done in the past, we will seek to negotiate an agreement with the DHBs nationally for additional payments and in what circumstances they will be paid.  We hope this will not be difficult. It is certainly in the DHBs’ interests to secure the goodwill of ASMS and its members during the strike and this is more likely to be obtained if they agree in advance what additional pay and other support (eg, meals) will be provided during this strike.

We will send you details of the agreement, or further advice before Tuesday 18 October, being the first day of the strike.

In the meantime, we have revised our general advice to members about their ethical and legal obligations during the RMO strike.  That advice is now available on the ASMS website and we encourage you all to read it:

Annual Conference highlight: Economist Shamubeel Eaqub

Economist, author and commentator Shamubeel Eaqub will be addressing the ASMS Annual Conference on ‘The economics of the health story and the role of public engagement’. Communicating this effectively is a critical issue for senior doctors and dentists working in public health, and Shamubeel Eaqub’s address is bound to stimulate discussion. The ASMS Annual Conference in Wellington in November provides an opportunity to hear first-hand from someone at the forefront of this debate.

A reminder – please put the date of the Annual Conference in your diaries, if you haven’t already: 17-18 November at Te Papa, Wellington.

The Conference will feature a range of presentations on topics relevant to your work, including the ASMS-DHB MECA negotiations, an address from Health Minister Jonathan Coleman, Dr Derek Sherwood (Chair of Council of Medical Colleges) on proposed changes to the funding model for vocational medical training, and the latest research on New Zealand’s senior medical workforce.

Every branch is entitled to a set number of delegates – please contact our Membership Support Officer Kathy Eaden at if you are interested in attending.

Did you know…about leave for meetings?

Did you know that SMOs “elected, seconded or otherwise appointed” are entitled to leave on full pay in order to attend professional meetings, including those of MOH, HPDT, medical and dental colleges, NZMA, NZDA and, of course, ASMS?  This clause also applies if you are invited to teach and/or assess trainees for your college or professional association.  SMOS may be granted leave for other bodies but these must be agreed with the employer.

You can read the full clause here:

Kind regards

Ian Powell
Executive Director