IT has been a long time coming – but junior doctors walked out yesterday.
Emergency cases are still being covered, but for many other patients, it may mean a case of delayed treatments, closed clinics and frustration.
Frustration, of course, is why the doctors have taken strike action in the first place. The dispute between doctors and management has been going on so long that the strike certificate used for yesterday’s action had been authorised last year. The trade dispute dates back to 2014. It’s fair to say that half a decade is a long wait for an end to a dispute.
The list of grievances covers many familiar concerns – holiday pay, contract length, disagreements about claims over salary and benefits – but of course if there’s no money in the pot, then it’s hard to share it out.
Hearing all that, there is of course some sympathy for doctors who want an end to the drawn-out matter. There is a different side.
Minister of Health Dr Duane Sands has some frustrations of his own. He says, for example, that doctors were reluctant to document their working hours. If the employer can’t track working hours, then it becomes difficult to verify overtime, holiday pay, and more.
It does show the state of the dispute, however – with sides unable or unwilling to make progress.
We agree that resolution to all of this should have happened a long time ago, but it seems we won’t reach a solution any sooner by obstruction.
Doctors may feel the losers in all this because of the lack of a solution – but the real losers are those left without treatment while strike action takes place.
We hope both sides will realise that yesterday’s action has rung an alarm bell about how deeply upset junior doctors are – but we also hope that they will realise that there doesn’t need to be a repeat of such action. Rather, we hope both sides will sit down and talk. Find a solution – and bring an end to this long dispute.
We welcome alert - while wishing for more
Marco Archer should have been turning 19 years old this week.
Sadly, we all know his life ended far too soon, at the age of 11 after being kidnapped and murdered in 2011.
Yesterday saw the signing of the $3.05m contract to implement the MARCO’s Alert system. The hope is that the system will help to prevent the deaths of children in future. It will warn people of a missing child, helping to ensure more eyes on the streets, watching for children in danger.
We welcome the alert, and this paper will be sure to help spread the word whenever such an alert is broadcast.
There is one thing we would wish, however. The alert system sends alerts to people on their smartphones and other devices – but only to those who have opted in to the system.
Our concern is that not enough people might sign up to it for it to make the impact it could in finding missing children. Will people be sufficiently motivated to sign up for the alert as soon as possible?
A glance across at the regular appeals for blood that take place at times of emergency, that sometimes struggle to bring in more donations when needed, does raise a concern. Even when faced with urgent need, people can be reluctant to step forward to help. Getting people to sign up for an alert at a time they don’t feel that sense of urgency might be a challenge.
We hope the alert makes a real impact. We hope it saves lives. But we do wonder if a compulsory alert might have been possible, rather than one people opt into.
Still, that is not the system we have – so for now we urge one thing: sign up to the system when you can. It really could make a difference.