13 Jul 2013

Doctors reluctantly ratify pay deal

6:10 am on 13 July 2013

Senior hospital doctors have reluctantly approved a modest pay deal with their employers. DHBs say it will provide industrial stability for the next three years, but doctors say it isn't enough to ease mounting workforce pressures.

A provisional settlement was agreed in May this year, costing the 20 district health boards $53.1 million over the next 40 months, and has been ratified.

Overall, salaries will be increased by an average of 1% a year. But the doctors' union says the effect is variable, with doctors on the top three salary levels getting about 5% more compounded over the period.

The Association of Salaried Medical Specialists said 85% of members who responded to a ballot approved the deal, but its ratification was reluctant as the union believes it is not sufficient to ease workforce pressures on doctors and says the Government is in denial about those pressures.

Executive director Ian Powell said on Friday it is the best the union could achieve, but isn't enough to address shortages.

"At best, it will be a bit of a holding action - but it's not a sustainable situation for too long. And that won't be resolved until we actually have a meeting of minds in which the mandarins that run our public health system actually start fronting up to their responsibility not to exploit an over-stretched workforce."

District health boards welcomed the move, saying it is a realistic settlement and ratification will provide stability for a critical workforce allowing both parties to focus on improving health services.