Nurses and kaimahi working for Māori and Iwi health providers are hoping tomorrow’s Budget helps ease the daily struggle they face to deliver services to their communities.
Te Runanga o Aotearoa New Zealand Nurses Organisation representative Kathryn Chapman says those planning the Budget need to significantly understand the shortfalls nurses in the Māori and Iwi sector face in terms of equity.
Ms Chapman said Māori and Iwi nurses are culturally ingrained to focus on their communities, which is why it is vital additional money is set aside to recognise the value Māori and Iwi nurses bring to the health setting.
" Everything we do in health is for our people. We are never off duty ."
The greatest challenge is the lack of resources which mean nurses have to be innovative to treat patients, she said.
"Sometimes we have to make a dressing out of a piece of cloth because we can’t afford to supply these. It takes a longer time for wounds to heal because we don’t have right dressing.
"It’s wrong if Government cannot offer money to fund proper wages so services to the most vulnerable in our communities can be maintained. And this funding has to be significant and long-term. We can’t do that with a 50 cent offer."
Ms Chapman said she would love to see money specifically ringfenced for Pay Parity for Māori and Iwi provider nurses and this should go directly to these nurses without getting caught up in red tape and funding issues.
"The skill base we have, given the environment in which we grew up, is unique.
"There is still mistrust of the system among our people so we have to go the extra mile. Whether we have pulled out our last $5 for whānau who cannot afford medication or $10 for fuel to travel to the hospital, we are always helping out in some way."
She called for specific funding to support professional development opportunities within the provider groups, and community-led services where it was difficult to fill vacant positions.
"I’d also like to see funding for mental health to help communities cope with the impact that extreme weather events like the Hawke’s Bay flooding have created.
"I’d like to make sure there’s adequate funding set aside that supports programmes of counselling, mentoring and support. Also, there’s a huge need in suicide prevention.
"We’ve got to help, especially the rural communities. It affects everyone not just Māori and Iwi.
"When you choose to live in rural communities, you’re aware that it does isolate you - but the right to culturally appropriate health services provided by fairly paid staff remains."