Notice of a four-day junior doctors' strike has taken District Health Boards by surprise.
Resident doctors are planning to walk off the job the week before Easter - the fifth time they've walked off the job in recent months.
Nelson Marlborough District Health Board spokesman Dr Peter Bramley says it came out of the blue.
"We're both disappointed and feeling very frustrated that while we're trying in good faith to engage on these issues, and together find a constructive solution, we now have another strike."
The strike will take place from April 15 to April 18.
- Doctors and DHB meet ahead of planned strike
- Junior doctors strike for 48 hours to protest new contracts
Dr Bramley says it comes in the middle of a very busy period for hospitals, and the timing is frustrating:
"We've already committed to next Friday meeting again in mediation, and in fact there's a request with the Employment [Relations] Authority (ERA) if we don't succeed at mediation, to meet for facilitation.
"All of our clinical service planners in each DHB are to assess the likely impact of a four-day strike, bearing in mind this is in the lead-up to Easter."
The strike will not take place in Canterbury following the mosque attacks.
"The significance of this four-day strike reflects the unity, strength and commitment of the resident doctors," said NZ Resident Doctors Association senior advocate David Munro. "It's a clear message to the DHBs that they are not backing down in their ongoing battle for a fair deal."
The strike may be called off if the ERA facilitation on April 5 goes well.