The New Zealand Nurses Organisation Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa (NZNO) welcomes today’s announcement by Health Minister Ayesha Verrall that general practice, community and other nurses outside of Te Whatu Ora will be included in new funding to reduce pay disparities from July.
NZNO Kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku says this is a good step in the right direction and that Hon Dr Verrall gets right to the heart of the matter when she says nurses with the same skillsets and experience should receive comparable pay regardless of where they practise.
“Currently pay rates for nurses and kaiāwhina working for Te Whatu Ora significantly outstrip the wages of other nurses in settings like Primary Health Care and this causes a real problem.
“Retention of staff has been a major challenge for general practices and community providers because, like anybody else, nurses will go where the money is when they are struggling financially. This causes huge inequities in the community and then emergency departments because access to care is reduced.”
Ms Nuku says the evidence for the pay gaps has been there for some time, much of it provided by NZNO, but this move towards Pay Parity is still welcome.
“Obviously we still have a long way to go in terms of closing the pay gaps that remain and our concern now is that the funding is targeted according to need.
“For example many Māori providers missed out on funding for Māori and iwi in the last tranche of funding because they are technically general practices, and this may help address that oversight – especially in terms of the important cultural overlay Māori nurses bring, which is often overlooked or taken for granted.”
Ms Nuku said it would be good for NZNO, as the main advocate for all nurses, and the Ministry to share data to help identify where that money should be targeted and to help ensure it all truly goes to the workers.
“This is a good move, but we are still only talking about a target of being whin 95 percent of Te Whatu Ora wages. This is unlikely to get us even to that figure.
“We say the target should be 100 percent Pay Parity so every nurse everywhere is equally valued, and so nurses can work where they feel they are most needed and contribute best, not where they are best paid.”