A specialty clinical nurse at Nelson Hospital, Nano Tunnicliff, is NZNO’s new president. Tunnicliff’s election was announced at NZNO’s annual conference, held in Wellington this week.
Tunnicliff is committed to working towards safe staffing and healthy workplaces for NZNO’s 43,000 members. “I am passionate about safe staffing. Unless our workplaces in hospitals, aged-care facilities and in the community have enough nurses to provide quality care, then it is patients who suffer. There is sufficient international evidence to show that when there are not enough nurses in a workplace, patient outcomes are poorer. When there are enough nurses working in safe and healthy environments, then there are quality outcomes for patients,” she said.
As president, she wants to empower members to use legislation that already exists, eg health and safety legislation, to ensure their workplaces are safe for their patients and themselves. “I also want to encourage nurses to define what is a safe workload and to act when their workload becomes unreasonable. The health system must support nurses in that decision.”
Acknowledging nurses are sometimes uncomfortable with change, Tunnicliff said she wanted to encourage nurses to lead change and innovation in their working environments.
“The Minister of Health is constantly saying that frontline health workers should have more say in how the health system works. Nurses know nursing and they should be given the ability and resources to lead change within their own workplaces,” she said. “Fully utilising the knowledge, skills and ideas of all nurses would be one of the most effective ways of improving the health of all New Zealanders.”
Tunnicliff’s term as president of the country’s largest professional organisation and union for nurses and other health care workers is for three years. She replaces Marion Guy, who served two two-year terms.
A clinical nurse manager at Hawke’s Bay District Health Board Kerri Nuku, has been elected as the kaiwhakahaere (leader) of Te Runanga o Aotearoa NZNO.