Life Preserving Services for Medical Laboratory Workers
Life Preserving Services (LPS) for Medical Laboratory Workers is covered in the Bargaining Process Agreement (BPA) agreed between the parties at the commencement of bargaining. Upon issuing the strike notice the employer is obligated to provide APEX with their contingency plan for the strike period, this includes how and what services they intend to reduce and how they intend to use non-APEX members to provide cover during the strike period.
Life Preserving Services:
As set out in the BPA LPS is defined as:
(a) crisis intervention for the preservation of life:
(b) care required for therapeutic services without which life would be jeopardised:
(c) urgent diagnostic procedures required to obtain information on potentially life-threatening conditions:
(d) crisis intervention for the prevention of permanent disability:
(e) care required for therapeutic services without which permanent disability would occur:
(f) urgent diagnostic procedures required to obtain information on conditions that could potentially lead to permanent disability.
Category C and F are the two most commonly relied on in the case of lab strikes.
There seems to be some misconception around what is an LPS, and what is a test for an LPS, to be clear for a patient identified as requiring testing that meets the criteria for LPS.
- First the patient must be an LPS i.e. they must require diagnosis or intervention to save their life. Note that words such as crisis, jeopardised and urgent are used – it is not simply that they might need X,Y or Z; they have to immediately need whatever because their life would be jeopardised without that being provided.
- And the only tests that our member providing the LPS will do is the test/s that is required to obtain information on potentially life-threatening conditions.
- Further to this if there is an alternative method of diagnosis for instance pneumonia could be diagnosed by chest x ray, then that patient would not necessarily meet the criteria for an LPS laboratory test. By contrast if Pneumonia plus septic shock is the presenting condition, then yes lab tests as well as a CXR might be justified.
- And the LPS laboratory test is specific to the individual LPS situation requested to give the clinician the diagnosis. It does NOT extend to a whole battery of tests that might be useful, for instance if a FBC was the LPS test in the case of septic shock, a sodium or creatinine would not be indicated (unless renal failure was also a feature in the case of creatinine). If an I-stat is available they can use that!
For some DHBs no LPS cover has been identified and as such there is no requirement for our members to make themselves available to be on duty or on call during the period of strike action. In the case of a natural disaster, civil defence emergency or similar, there is a provision for the DHB to contact the Union for assistance – advocates are on call 24/7 for this purpose. and know how to contact you if the need arises.
APEX coordinates between members and your delegates to work out who wishes to volunteer to provide the LPS cover, note only those who are competent to provide the cover will be able to do this, i.e. if 1 MLS multi skilled in haem and Biochem is requested then a MLS multi skilled and competent only in Micro and Blood bank would not be able to cover this .
If you are providing the LPS cover APEX will also provide you a copy of the agreed LPS agreement so that you are clear on what tests/ services have been agreed to over the strike period that you will be covering.
Once the strike has commenced
Only those members who have been identified to the employer as being the APEX member/s available to provide LPS are required or should attend the workplace. They will be contacted by the employer via the gatekeeper or directly by the treating doctor if it is a situation where a delay could result in loss of life or limb) to either process a sample (if on site) or attend as a call-back to perform tests as requested. You will need to keep a spreadsheet of calls received, including who requested, time of start and finish of call-back (for claiming payment)
It is not up to the member performing the LPS to argue the validity of the request, this is something that APEX will review and will sort out after the fact, please process any tests that are requested. If there are issues your advocates will be available and able to be contacted to raise your concerns to e.g. if you are being called to process routine samples and not those that meet the definition of an LPS.