Nurses rally to have their voice heard

By Tema Hemi

Around 27,000 nurses began voting today on whether to support a nationwide strike. The move follows concerns by the New Zealand Nurses Organisation who want to bring public attention to their dissatisfaction about government under investment into quality patient care, pay and safe staffing. 

The nurses will continue voting despite the work of an independent panel which is attempting to resolve their pay dispute. Members of the New Zealand Nurses Organisation have been rallying across the country which will continue through the week and have said the strike will be a last resort.

Cee Payne industrial services manager at NZ Nurses Organisation says, "Nurses are rallying to demonstrate their concern very publically and to bring the public on board as well so they understand what the issues are and trying to create some pressure so that government  can see how big the problem is."

Payne also says, "An ideal outcome would be for nurses to feel they can deliver safe patient care every day when they go on duty. That there are enough nurses to do the work and they're not going home  stressed and feeling morally distressed because they have not been able to deliver the care that they want to give."  

They're concerned the independent panel's discussions with nurses may not be successful. Nurses say they leave work distressed that their workloads are increasingly unmanageable and that their quality care is compromised. 

In a statement to Te Kāea, Health Minister David Clarke said, "There is no doubt that Health was underfunded by the previous government. It has left nurses, midwives and other health workers struggling with increased demand and a lack of resources." 

Clarke also said, "The upcoming Budget will demonstrate this Government's commitment to increased funding for health, and a sustainable approach to workforce planning."