Embargoed until 12.30pm, 20 July 2022
New Zealand Nurses Organisation media release, 20 July 2022
The New Zealand Nurses Organisation, Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa (NZNO) says it received more than 2700 responses (in just two days) after inviting members to send a message to the Minister of Health about the nursing/health crisis.
NZNO gave its members the opportunity in response to Health Minister Andrew Little’s persistent assertions that there is no health crisis and that the system as a whole is coping.
NZNO Kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku said one only has to read the news to see that the system is actually on the brink of collapse, just as many health professionals are saying.
“Ninety-nine percent of responding members said the system was either in crisis (70 percent) or already beyond crisis (29 percent).
“What word we use to describe this situation is probably not important, but the Government’s insistence that this is just a temporary situation caused by covid and a cold winter has made nurses feel unheard and completely undervalued, and that is evident in the messages to the Minister. Many are furious, and many are in tears as they write.”
Some of the messages are lengthy, and NZNO President Anne Daniels said the fact that so many went to such lengths to share their thoughts is significant.
“Decades of poor planning, inadequate funding and outright neglect have led us to a time of absolute crisis in terms of pay, staffing resources and morale across the nursing sector.
“This isn’t a temporary glitch; many are seeing it as the end of the road, with 72 percent of respondents saying they are either seriously thinking of leaving nursing or New Zealand, or that they had already made plans to do so.
“This is not union officials opining in Wellington. These messages are the heartfelt pleas of nurses and other health workers right across the country working in a wide variety of nursing sectors. We hope for their sakes that the Health Minister and the Government will be willing to listen.”
Interestingly, 95 percent of respondents (not all of whom work in the DHB sector) said honouring the promised back pay to DHB nurses and extending DHB Pay Equity rates to all nurses in New Zealand, regardless of where they practice, was one of the most important things Government could do to help address the nursing/health crisis.
The book of messages, amounting to 330 pages of print, will be anonymised and delivered to the Health Minister today at 12 Noon by a small team of Wellington region NZNO delegates. Journalists would be welcome to photograph and speak with these members at Parliament at around 12.30pm.
Media inquiries: Rob Zorn, NZNO Media and Communications Advisor: 027 431 2617.
Further information: survey stats
Nurses completing the survey were from all sectors: DHB; Primary Health Care; Aged Care; Private Hospital and Hospice; and Māori and iwi. Responses were received from all 20 DHB regions.
Is there a crisis?
2735 answered the question about whether there was a nursing crisis. No and Maybe were answer choices. 1910 (70 percent) said there was a crisis. A further 29 percent said the situation was already beyond crisis.
How does the Government denial of a health crisis make you feel?
Indifferent was an available choice. However, 39 percent said they were angry; 19 percent said they were disillusioned; 41 percent said they felt undervalued. Total = 99 percent.
Are you thinking of leaving nursing?
- Seriously thinking about leaving: 33 percent
- Seriously thinking about taking a nursing job overseas: 27 percent
- Already made plans to leave for good: 5 percent
- Already made plans to nurse overseas: 6 percent
- Determined to battle on: 28 percent.
In other words, less than a third indicated they wanted to stay in their jobs.
What are the most important things Government could do to help address the nursing/health crisis?
- Honour the promised Pay Equity back pay for DHB nursing staff, and extend those Pay Equity rates to all nursing sectors: 96 percent.
- Provide more nurses: 80 percent
- Prioritise health and safety in workplaces: 70 percent
- Put internationally qualified nurses on the fast track to residency: 64 percent
- Remove financial barriers for nursing students: 60 percent
- Make it cheaper and easier for IQNs already here to gain registration: 53 percent
- Implement te Tiriti across the health system: 34 percent.