Nurses and midwives belonging to the New Zealand Nurses Organisation Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa (NZNO) say resolving Pay Equity negotiations for each profession is essential to staff recruitment and retention, and must be sorted soon so better health care can be provided to those who need their services.
Pay Equity refers to nurses and midwives being paid at the same level as professions dominated by males who do directly comparable work. Nurses and midwives have Pay Equity claims that have been stalled by legal action over the Nursing Pay Equity claim and, while nurses have been given an interim Pay Equity payment, midwives have not.
NZNO Kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku, who has herself worked as a midwife, says this has caused real problems in that registered nurses who hold both competencies are being tempted to give up their midwifery competency so they can receive the Nursing Pay Equity interim payment they need to survive financially.
"On International Women’s Day (8 March) we met with our midwifery members who are frustrated at being treated differently and at the lack of progress around Pay Equity, despite that they work collaboratively with nurses, have similar qualifications and do essential work that is of equal value.
"Nurses and midwives are so thin on the ground that there is a real danger of people needing hospital or community health services, and mothers having babies not receiving adequate care. Sorting Pay Equity would go a long way towards bolstering staff numbers in both professions, but the Government seems to have other priorities.
"Meanwhile patients and pregnant women miss out, while nurses and midwives are run ragged trying to meet patient needs. This is just completely unsustainable."
Ms Nuku says every nurse and every midwife, everywhere, deserves recognition, and to receive wages that show they are equally valued and essential.
"Our people, our Māori and Pasifika, our elderly and our new young mothers need us to be there for them in numbers and every day - while the Government quibbles over money - more and more nurses and midwives are giving up on Aotearoa New Zealand and heading off for greener pastures.
"We are paying a massive price already for that, and the cost in terms of human suffering will continue to rise."