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NZNO research shows clear pay disparity for general practice nurses

New Zealand Nurses Organisation media release, 22 April 2023

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation is today launching the findings of its March pay disparity survey researching wages paid to members working in general practice (medical centre) settings.

In the survey, 1135 general practice nurses responded to questions about their qualifications, experience, positions and base hourly rates. These rates were then compared to rates currently paid to nurses employed by Te Whatu Ora.

Despite claims by former Health Minister Andrew Little that there was no evidence of a pay disparity between general practice and Te Whatu Ora nurses, the survey shows one third of registered nurses in general practice were currently paid minimum rates between 22 and 27 percent ($5.77 and $9.68 per hour) less than their Te Whatu Ora colleagues.

On average, general practice nurses were paid 14-20.8 percent (between $5.14 and $7.88) less per hour than their Te Whatu Ora counterparts.

The survey found that only 31 out of the 952 registered and enrolled nurses who responded were paid higher rates than their Te Whatu Ora counterparts (just over three percent).

Enrolled nurses were paid up to $6.75 (26 percent) per hour less than their Te Whatu Ora counterparts, and registered nurses were paid up to $9.68 (27 percent) less per hour.

The average wages of nurse prescribers and nurse manager respondents were also below the rates currently paid to an equivalent Te Whatu Ora nurse.

The survey was conducted by NZNO professional researchers and Primary Health Care nurse Denise Moore says the findings show there is a demonstrable pay disparity between general practice and Te Whatu Ora nurses.

“That we have twice been excluded from the Government’s funding to address pay disparities is manifestly unjust. It devalues general practice nurses who were essential to the fight against Covid and whose role it is to help keep people out of our overcrowded hospitals.

“Nurses are leaving general practice in unprecedented numbers because they cannot make ends meet financially, and Government telling them they don’t need a pay rise has been the last straw for many.”

Ms Moore said nurses leaving is having a significant impact on the availability of health services in the community and putting increased pressure on our hospitals as many now see the hospital emergency department as their only option for care.

“If the Government wants to focus patients towards Primary Health Care to rebalance the health system away from hospitals, it makes no sense to leave practice nurses out of any funding set aside for pay increases.

“This is something the Government must address without delay. We are losing nurses at a rapid rate and poor wages mean we cannot compete when trying to replace them. This all comes at a great cost to the health and wellbeing of people in Aotearoa New Zealand.”


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