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New winter health plan a good start, but needs to go further

New Zealand Nurses Organisation media release, 4 May 2023

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa (NZNO) says the 2023 Winter Plan to erase pressure on the health system includes some helpful initiatives but does not strike at the heart of the problem.

NZNO Kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku says pushing services out into the community to alleviate hospital overcrowding is good in theory but that this can only work if we have the people and resources available to do that.

“Sadly we know that the greatest problem we have right now is a lack of personnel and my fear is that this will only exacerbate the problem we have where the quality of health services you receive depends on your postcode.”

Ms Nuku said the focus on receiving care at the right time and at the right place is laudable, but unfortunately hospital will be the “right place” for many people this winter and the Government plan fails to address existing staffing issues that are seriously undermining the standard of care in our hospitals.

“How are we going to ensure we have enough nurses, midwives, health care assistants and kaimahi to meet the growing demand on our hospitals that comes each winter?

“There is nothing about a safety plan and payments implemented for all additional shifts and hours worked in recognition of the extra burden winter places on our members.

“In fact this is something we have asked for in our bargaining and Te Whatu Ora has turned us down.”

Ms Nuku said that while the winter plan includes some good initiatives, it fails to address the heart of the matter which is the nursing shortage and recognition of the value of the nursing workforce.

“This winter will be especially challenging and we need to get beyond making adjustments that shift the burden and keep focusing on real and lasting solutions: valuing nurses and doing everything we can to recruit more.”


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