Campaign begins to highligh exhaustion of New Zealand’s ‘Resident Doctors’

Campaign begins to highligh exhaustion of New Zealand’s ‘Resident Doctors’

Resident doctors are registered medical practitioners, ranging in experience from first year qualified doctors to those with more than 12 years experience, primarily working in the public sector and are employed by all 20 DHBs, according to the campaign’s media release. 

The press release states that the “NZRDA’s campaign seeks to have DHBs reduce current rostering patterns of seven (10 hour) nights shifts in a row to a maximum of 4; and from 12 days in a row to maximum of 10, on affected rosters.”

The Southern DHB runs health centres and hospitals from rural Southland to Dunedin city and provides health and disability services to over 300,000 people while receiving government funding of over $800 million per year, as their website states.

The Southern DHB employs 243 resident doctors in total, with 122 working on the 11 affected rosters. Of these 11, none have been “entirely rectified” although positive changes have been made. 

“Whilst we applaud Southern DHB for being one of the first DHBs to engage with NZRDA on safer rostering, it is disappointing that this momentum has not been maintained... We call on the DHB to complete the process for all affected doctors without delay. It is essential for the sake of the health and wellbeing of the doctors and the care of their patients that we move urgently to reduce the doctor’s fatigue as a result of the hours they are being rostered to work”, commented Dr Nick Erskine, NZRDA’s Southern representative.

NZRDA national secretary Deborah Powell told that Gisborne DHB has rectified all of their rosters to comply with the changes the NZRDA are seeking, although they remain the only such example. 

The group's campaign includes quotes from Resident Doctors on their Facebook page to highlight individual feelings of fatigue and exhaustion as a result of over-working. One detailed how they “accidentally stole a car during [their] night shift” after using their key to get into an identical car to theirs before turning around only to see a baby’s car seat in the back; they said: “I thought I was tripping balls.”

This article first appeared in Issue 21, 2016.
Posted 10:08am Sunday 4th September 2016 by Joe Higham.