Health minister says DHB offer to junior doctors "pretty good and reasonable"

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman has told a medical conference that the pay and conditions offer to junior doctors is "a pretty good and reasonable offer."

The Resident Doctors Association called off a strike scheduled for next week due to the Kaikoura earthquake. It would have been the second strike in the dispute over pay and conditions.

Speaking to the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists conference at Te Papa in Wellington, Dr Coleman said: "I'm telling both parties, we want them to get around the table and settle the issue. It's very good that the strike notice has been lifted. I think the district health boards are making a pretty good and reasonable offer and I'm very hopeful that we can get this settled. It would make your lives a bit easier as well."

The Resident Doctors Association wasn't immediately available to respond to Dr Coleman's remarks.

In a wide-ranging speech, the minister also described negotiations over the Terra Nova ruling as one of the key areas he's been working on. The issue centres on equal pay and came out of a Service and Food Workers Union case brought on behalf of care home worker Kristine Bartlett against the rest home Terra Nova. The union, which is now called E tu, said it expects a preliminary settlement before Christmas. Bartlett took a case against her employer, arguing her $14.32 an hour pay rate was a result of gender discrimination under the Equal Pay Act.

Mr Coleman told the conference that "we're working through the negotiations around that; we're very keen to see that progress."

He said the government maintained a watching brief on the evidence relating to the introduction of a tax on sugary drinks to tackle obesity,

"It's not something we're actually considering. We'll continue to keep a watching brief on emerging evidence. There are two global studies that are due to report at the end of 2017."

In the question and answer session after his speech, Dr Coleman was heckled on the issue when he told the audience that raising taxes on cigarettes had led to a reduction in smoking.

He also defended the food contract some district health boards have with the Compass food group. In September, Radio New Zealand reported that Compass was having to re-tune its offer because just six of the 20 district health boards had signed up.

But Dr Coleman said the contract with the six DHB's represented a saving of $30 million and, "that's a lot of money that's going to be going back to frontline services."


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What offer? What conditions? This is unacceptable clickbait

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Perhaps Mr Coleman can be looked after in hospital by a junior doctor on his 12th straight day of work. But of course it is the old "do as I say not as I do". That treatment is only for the ordinary folk.

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