Opinion: Letting our junior doctors strike solves nothing

Unhappy doctor at work
We know why you're striking, and we know why the DHBs won't agree to cut your hours, so how can we fix this? (Getty)

OPINION: Dear junior doctors and health bosses - can't you just get around a table and sort this pay stuff out once and for all?

Park your egos and historical differences and get back to work helping the public.   

I know junior doctors work incredibly hard over long periods of time. Some of you are working 60-plus hours a week, some of you even more.

I understand that you want more time off, especially on weekends, but want to be paid the same salary: who would voluntarily take a pay cut just to have more time off?

And isn't what this is really about, reducing your work hours and the amount of days and night shifts you have to work in a row?

As junior doctors you are paid very well indeed, more than most Kiwis but hey, you've got a lot of responsibility and you deserve the money. 

You've probably also got a massive student loan to pay off, but on your wages that shouldn't take too long.

Can't you find another way to reduce your work hours instead of striking and leaving people's health in the lurch for 73 hours?

Are the district health boards holding you to ransom? Why is your militant union so intent on you taking strike action?

And you, chief executives of New Zealand's DHBs, you who are you paid half a million dollars each a year, why do you deny our hard-working junior doctors a little bit more time off?

DHBs have to fill the ranks of these striking junior doctors who charge much more, in some cases over $300 an hour.

Surely this money could be spent hiring a few doctors to cover the extra time off that New Zealand's junior doctors crave?

I want to believe that junior doctors chose their profession because they want a career easing people's pain and suffering.

I also want to believe that health board bosses also got into the profession to cut the red tape and admin - and let doctors do their jobs safely.

Right now, hundreds of New Zealanders are desperate for surgery to make their lives better, but most of them will have to wait just that little bit longer due to the strike. 

The cause of their drawn-out pain and suffering is all too clear.

So, please, stop bickering, stop fighting, listen to each other and agree to a deal. Soon.

New Zealand's health system, once the envy of the world, deserves at least that. 

It's high time we put the public back into the 'public health system'.