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Nurses must be supported as frontline against COVID-19

New Zealand Nurses Organisation media release, 20 March 2020

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) is calling for measures to improve support for nurses in the Government’s next round of pandemic initiatives after still more infections were reported today.

NZNO President Grant Brookes says the Government is doing a remarkable job but that, while more funding has already been promised for the health system, some resources could now be specifically for nurses who bear the brunt of working on the frontline across all sectors.

“Things we could do include paid special leave to look after an isolated dependant or a child unable to go to school; or free child care so nurses can carry on working.

“The competing demands on nurses are incredible and unprecedented right now. We are already hearing of their fatigue and anxiety about getting sick themselves, or that they will take infection home to their families and communities.

“But nurses also know they are expected to be there, because they always have been in the frontline for any medical emergency. They’re actually the glue that holds our COVID-19 response together, and will be working long hours under extremely stressful conditions.

“The potential for overwork and burnout is enormous, especially in cases where nurses are the sole breadwinners.”

It’s still to be confirmed that all of the total 39 cases reported to date have all come from overseas, but Mr Brookes said community spread was probably inevitable.

“If and when that occurs, health employers are expecting 25-30 percent of staff to be on sick leave from becoming symptomatic or from the need to care for dependants who are ill or off school. Anything we can do to acknowledge and relieve the pressure nurses are under would be welcome.

“We will get through this, because we know we can rely on our nurses. Let’s give them what they need to do their jobs and keep themselves safe and well.” 


Media inquiries: Rob Zorn, NZNO Media and Communications Advisor: 027 431 2617.

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