New Zealand Nurses Organisation media release, 31 January 2023
The New Zealand Nurses Organisation Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa (NZNO) welcomes Hon Dr Ayesha Verrall to the Minister of Health role.
NZNO Chief Executive Paul Goulter said the organisation and its members are looking forward to working with Ms Verrall in addressing years of neglect by successive governments that have resulted in acute staffing shortages and poor working conditions that affect patient safety and threaten the future of the nursing profession in Aotearoa New Zealand.
“We know Ms Verrall is aware of the urgent need to lift the number of trained and qualified nurses and to ensure pay and conditions are equal across the health system.
“Our hope is that, with the Government’s recently stated commitment to health, we can begin to meet nurses’ values and expectations so the right numbers of nurses are attracted into training and onto placements, and that those already in the profession will want to stay.
“In particular we look forward to working with Ms Verrall to increase number of Māori and Pasifika nurses and to building a Tiriti-based health system that is culturally appropriate so all communities receive the care they need.”
However, Paul Goulter said the ongoing pay equity dispute and lack of pay parity, where every nurse everywhere has the same pay and conditions according to their qualifications and experience, are among the biggest challenges the new Minister of Health will face this election year.
“The lack of pay parity results in acute shortages of nurses in various sectors, as they move into the higher paid parts of health or leave the sector entirely.
“This means some sectors, such as Primary Health Care, Māori and iwi, Aged Care etc, cannot find or keep staff which leads to shortages that reduce health services in communities leading to poorer patient outcomes.”
He said he’s sure Ms Verrall knows the enormity of the task ahead and how important it will be for Government to work together with unions and health organisations to bring about meaningful change.
Paul Goulter also acknowledged departing Health Minister Andrew Little.
“I would like to thank Mr Little for the work he did in the health arena and I wish him well with his new portfolios.”
Media enquiries: Rob Zorn, NZNO Media and Communications Advisor: 027 431 2617.