Junior doctors strike: How hard are they really working?

  • 18/10/2016
  • By Tony Wright
Some NZ junior doctors are working over 72 hours a week (Getty)

The 48-hour strike by New Zealand's junior doctors has many Kiwis wondering just how hard our young medical practitioners are actually working.

Newshub has compared their working conditions and salaries to the average Kiwi, and it's apparent most junior doctors (or RMOs - Registered Medical Officers) are working incredibly long hours.

They are expected to work at least 53 hours, but many are working the maximum 72, and Newshub has learned some RMOs are working even more than that.

At times RMOs work can work up to 16 hours a day.

The base salary for a house officer RMO is $55,944 for a 40+ hour week, but this can increase up to $111,000 for working a 65+ hour week.

The base salary for a registrar RMO begins at $63,990 for a 40+ hour week, but can increase up to $123,000 for working a 65+ hour week.

RMOs receive 6 weeks annual leave and can apply for a further 6 weeks study leave (this averages out to about 2 weeks study leave a year).

RMOs want to cut their 12 day working stretch to 10.

The say it's dangerous to work such long hours over a prolonged time without days off.

Almost 1200 young doctors say they've made mistakes at work due to fatigue, while almost 300 say they've fallen asleep at the wheel while driving home from work.

The District Health Boards (DHBs) agree that RMOs should only work a maximum of 10 days consecutively, but are refusing to pay the $60 million it would cost to hire additional staff to cover these extra days off.

The DHBs say the RMOs aren't budging an inch on their demands.

In essence, the DHBs want junior doctors to take a combined $60 million pay cut so they can give them more time off work.


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