3 September 2023  

From Chief People Officer, Andrew Slater:

Te Whatu Ora is frustrated and extremely disappointed that the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS) – the union representing senior doctors and dentists within Te Whatu Ora – is refusing to take our latest offer for settlement to their members for consideration, following unsuccessful mediated discussions over the past week.

Te Whatu Ora and ASMS have met in mediation three times. Each time Te Whatu Ora has revised its offer to reach a settlement, including a very fair and improved offer made on Friday this week [Note to editors: September 1], which essentially meets the union’s claim.

This included agreeing to bring the date of pay increases forward on what was in the earlier offer, requiring an investment of a further $16 million. The cost of the revised settlement presented on Friday is significantly above the original parameter for this bargaining.

The improved offer made in mediation would give senior doctors and dentists salary increases over the next year of between 7% and 12.9%. This amounts to an increase of between $15,000 and $26,000.

An important part of the Te Whatu Ora offer that ASMS is not acknowledging is that we share our doctors’ concerns about attracting and retaining doctors into the public health system. We have made a significant commitment to review terms and conditions across the senior medical workforce and to start to remove the remuneration inconsistencies that have been generated through 20 DHBs operating as independent employers.  

Growing our medical workforce will take time. This is not a quick fix and achieving this outcome requires us to be focused on the bigger picture – with our doctors in the room able to provide clinical leadership.

We have been clear with the union that we have put all that we can on the table. To invest more would involve having to make funding reprioritisations elsewhere.

Our senior doctors and dentists are important members of our workforce, and we value the work they do. We know they are facing pressures and we’re committed to working with them to address these so we can deliver improved health services to New Zealanders.

We’ve also been clear that a protracted dispute will distract us all from getting on with the job of working on solutions for a range of workforce challenges.

Despite this, the union has rejected the improved offer and our already stretched workforce is now faced with contingency planning for strikes, which will disrupt the delivery of planned surgical care.

Our door remains open to discuss how to reach a settlement.

We would like to thank our doctors and dentists who have worked with us to ensure life preserving services are met.

The first strike will take place from midday until 2pm on Tuesday 5 September at public hospitals and other health facilities where senior medical officers work. The union has confirmed a further strike for 13 September from 10-12pm and signalled a four-hour strike will follow.

About 250 planned care procedures will be deferred because of next week’s strike and outpatient appointments will also be impacted. This will be particularly frustrating for patients and our people when we’ve been working hard to reduce waiting lists.

Strike Information for Patients

Patients who have an outpatient appointment or surgery booked on the day of the strikes should attend as planned unless they have been contacted to reschedule their appointment.

Emergency departments will remain open, and plans are in place to ensure safe care in our hospitals.

People should continue to call 111 or come to an emergency department if they are experiencing a medical emergency.

We have an agreement with the union for senior doctors to attend any life or limb-threatening emergencies during the strike period if required.

Note for Editors

The current average salaries for senior doctors (in September 2022):

Ave. Base FTE Salary


Ave. Additional Salary Payments


Sub Total – FTE Remuneration


Ave. Employer Super payment


Ave. Total FTE Salary Package




Media contact: hnzmedia@health.govt.nz