Nurses rally for safer staffing and pay

By Jessica Tyson

Nurses across Auckland, Waikato and Whakatane are rallying today for better patient care, higher pay and safer staffing.

New Zealand Nurses Association delegate Zenzi Grabowski says district health boards are unacceptably underfunded and the hospitals are “chock-a-block with patients and understaffed”.

"The health budget has not kept up with the needs of an aging and growing population and the increasing number of people presenting with multiple health needs," she says.

"In this environment we are unable to attract and keep enough nurses and midwives as they continue to roll out the door, leaving the New Zealand health workforce".

In Waikato, NZNO delegate Bronwyne Albright says there have been “big ideas and promises” at Waikato but a lack of resources to take care of patients and staff.

"On a plane yesterday, sitting next to a child and listening to the safety message about adults to put on their oxygen mask first, I thought, nurses are feeling we need that safety mask now and then we can look after others because currently the under-funding situation feels like an emergency for the public health service," she says.

"This rally is not only about pay, it is about keeping well as a nurse and being able to keep the health service well.  The public are behind us because they are concerned too".

Rereātea recently reported that district health boards had offered 27,000 of their members a $1,050 lump-sum payment and the boards are working on ways to address nurses' concerns about their pay and their conditions of work.

A total of 25 rallies this month have already been held as part of the campaign and there are more rallies happening across the country over the coming week.