Monday, March 13, 2017

The doctors win

Junior doctors have won their industrial action for safer hours:

Doctors are crediting public support for helping them strike a new deal on working hours.

After more than a year of negotiations, including strike action, resident doctors and District Health Boards have agreed on a change to working conditions.

The new agreement includes doctors not having to work more than 10 days in a row, and having a total of four days off in a fortnight.

They won't be rostered to work more than four 10-hour night shifts in a row, and will be given recovery time after night shifts.

A new provision will mean doctors could work back-to-back weekends, but to make up for it, rostered days off will be attached to other weekends to allow meaningful time off.

This is very definitely progress, but its still pretty bad. Doctors make life or death decisions, and contract conditions which require long hours and limit rest are not going to help with that. While they've reduced the shift time to "only" ten hours and allowed recovery time, that's still a long day (or night) and could result in impaired judgement. But I guess returning to an 8-hour day is a fight for another time.

The other thing is that this won't take effect until February next year. Long hours are a pressing safety problem which potentially costs lives, and the most the DHB's will do is fix it next year? Clearly they're putting their budgets (and the government's tax cuts) ahead of people's lives here, and we should vote them out for it.