August 20, 2021


The New Zealand Resident Doctors Association and APEX


Two unions representing over 8000 frontline health workers, the New Zealand Resident Doctors’ Association and the APEX Union are calling for pod rostering to begin immediately for all essential workers providing healthcare in DHBs, private health services and the community.[1]

“The current situation in Auckland and potential for spread of the Delta cluster dictates that ‘Pod’ rostering needs to begin immediately within frontline health services to protect the system’s capability to respond,” said Dr Deborah Powell, national secretary of both the New Zealand Resident Doctors Association and the APEX Union.

“‘Pod’ or ‘bubble’ rostering is a technique piloted and proven to work in Singapore during the SARS 2003 outbreak.  It was implemented widely during our own lockdown in early 2020. It requires coordinated rostering of healthcare teams in a series of pods or bubbles, so for instance in radiology a series of teams each incorporating a radiologist, registrar, medical imaging technologists and nurse. Each pod stays together as a team but separate from other pods so if one team member becomes unwell, that pod is stood down and another pod take up the roster gap,” continued Dr Powell.

“’Pod’ rostering significantly limits the number of health workers who could be unnecessarily exposed to Covid or required to be stood down as a close contact of a Covid positive staff member, patient or community case.

“Although some health services especially medical laboratories began ‘pod’ rostering as early as Tuesday night, the entire system from ED and ICU through theatres, radiology, radiotherapy, inpatient wards, and acute mental health services needs to move urgently to ‘pod’ rostering to maximise the relative isolation benefits for health staff.”

“We are concerned that despite our members raising this issue with managers, we are seeing back office managers not move quickly enough to protect frontline staff through ‘pod’ rostering, working from home, tele-health and sending home unneeded staff to remain on call.”

“System resilience and preparedness not just to Covid but to any unexpected demand on health services requires all health services to immediately begin ‘pod’ rostering to protect against unnecessary exposure of the health workforce to the Delta variant,” concluded Dr Powell, national secretary NZRDA and APEX.





Dr Deborah Powell

National Secretary, APEX and NZRDA

M: 021 614 040


[1] The New Zealand Resident Doctors Association represents resident medical officers, including house officers and registrars in District Health Boards and GP practices.

APEX Union represents allied health professionals including radiographers, medical laboratory workers, anaesthetic technicians, radiation therapists, psychologists, clinical physiologists and others.