Panic, stress and anxiety felt by nurses

By Marena Mane

New Zealand Nurses' Organisation kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku says what's she's hearing from nurses is that they're panicked, stressed, and apprehensive from preparing for their strike and now preparing their whanau to safely return to work and retrace their own steps.

One of the new Covid-19 community cases, verified to be of the Delta variant, is a fully vaccinated nurse at Auckland Hospital.

The hospital took quick measures, including halting all needless ward transfers and testing all staff and patients on the ward where the nurse worked.

Meanwhile, because of the countrywide lockdown, nurses and hospital midwives have called off their scheduled strike for tomorrow.

Nuku is concerned but she has always been aware of the possibility of this happening, and she says it has been a difficult moment for all the nurses, knowing that one of their own was affected by a positive test.

“Our thoughts are with her at this time. It can happen to anyone if we don't have safety measures in place.”

Postponement of the strike

Nuku has stated that it’s pretty clear that when there is a crisis, nurses will always put their personal interests aside and rise to the occasion to protect their community of 5 million to make sure they are safe.

“It's not that the conditions have improved. It's not that the concerns have been mitigated, but actually, this is what nurses do when there is a crisis.” 

“Unselfishly they will put their own needs on hold, and will pick them up, once this crisis is over.”

Do nurses feel safe?

According to Nuku, there are concerns regarding the FIT tests that are undertaken on N95 masks to protect nurses, but they are hopeful that the procedures have been properly thought out and that access to PPE equipment will not be a problem.

“We're not hearing that access to PPE is a concern at this point in time, but these are early days yet.”

Pay parity

According to Nuku, those working in the community conducting swabbing are paid 25% less than those manning ventilators, despite the fact that they have the same skill experience.

“So, again, our nurses in the community will rise to the need, but their recognition of the role that they play has always been undermined.”