4000 nurses needed to fill staffing void as new health service starts

By Stefan Dimitrof

Goodbye 20 district health boards. From tomorrow New Zealand’s health system is merged into one service with some co-governance from Māori. Ready or not, welcome to New Zealand Health and the Māori Health Authority.

New Zealand Nurses Organisation kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku told teaomaori.news she is hoping to see some aspirational changes from the new organisations.

Nuku said the health system was short about 4000 vacant nursing positions that needed to be filled.

New Zealand’s health system is under immense pressure from the reverberation effects of Covid-19 and the impact of the new strain of the flu.

In fact, the New Zealand Herald has reported emergency departments and hospitals are so overwhelmed that district health boards have been paying "exorbitant" fees to get GPs to open and alleviate pressure.

'Māori Health Authority is a positive'

The question was, with the health system stretched, are New Zealand Health and the Māori Health Authority going to make a meaningful change amid this crisis?

“What is promised is that there is an elimination of postcode healthcare and that would mean for us that we should have equity of service and quality of service regardless of where you sit in the country.”

“And there is strict monitoring to ensure that, which is what we would expect from their health reforms.”

Nuku is of the view that the Māori Health Authority is a positive move, even though it’s not at the level of authority initially proposed.

“It’s a significant change that significantly signals that things must be done differently to meet the needs a respond differently to our Māori communities.”

'Huge on the workforce'

“So we are hopeful if it is provided for and resourced adequately, the voice of Māori consumers can be heard and managed in a different way.”

Nuku hoped with the changes that being Māori in the workplace was taken into consideration when culture was considered and adequately supported being Māori.

 “The amount of stress and the amount of fatigue, the demands both in work expectation but also the demands from whānau while meeting the demands and ensuring we rest ourselves - it has been huge on the workforce.”