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'You can do your job but you're not safe in your head' - exhausted junior doctors strike again over gruelling schedules

It's so far, so good, District Health Boards report, several hours into a second strike which has seen junior doctors walk off the job nationwide until Friday.

About 3000 junior doctors started three days of strike action over rosters today Source: 1 NEWS

It's still not clear how many junior doctors are taking part in the 73-hour strike; 3100 are union members, making up around three-quarters of their workforce.

They last walked off the job in October for 48 hours.

Around 20 striking medics gathered to picket outside Christchurch Hospital early this morning and wave placards, with passing cars tooting in support.

Retiree Len Carter, who'd just walked outside to take a break from visiting his seriously ill wife, said they had his full support.

"I put complete faith in these young people to look after my wife. I know what it's like to work a 12-hour day and they do it for 10, 12 days on the trot and it's not fair," he said.

District Health Boards say three weeks of contingency planning is now paying off with enough senior doctors and nurses in place to provide care to patients who need it.

"The plans are good and I believe we have all we can in place. However staff are being asked to work potentially longer hours or take on tasks that aren't normal tasks and that causes disruption," says DHB National Contingency Planning Manager Anne Aitcheson.

The junior doctors are striking to get their current 12 day shifts reduced to 10 and seven-in-a-row night shifts reduced to four.

The DHBs say they've already agreed to reduce those shifts as well as offer a pay rise, but say what they now can't agree on around the bargaining table are demands from the union to take control of junior doctors' day-to-day rostering in individual district health boards.

The strike is set to last until 8am Friday morning.

A war of words has erupted ahead of planned strike action from junior doctors. Source: 1 NEWS

The Junior Doctors' Union is still determined to get 12 day shifts down to 10, seven nights down to four and the DHBs are saying no. Source: 1 NEWS

Both parties are next set to meet again around the bargaining table on Thursday.