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Mini-Budget must prioritise health investment

New Zealand Nurses Organisation Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa (NZNO) says the cost of ignoring the health crisis will be detrimental to the long-term future of the country if the new government fails to significantly invest in the sector immediately.

NZNO Kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku said the "mini-Budget" presented by new Minister of Finance Nicola Willis on Wednesday is a good opportunity to demonstrate whether the new Government is sincere about wanting a healthier New Zealand.

Ms Nuku said it was vital that the mini-Budget increased allocation to health to fund an increase in the number of nurses among other fixes required to address the crisis.

"They should be held accountable for what happens over the next three years.

"We will be continuing to assert pressure for the health workforce to be valued, specifically around issues such as nurse-to-patient ratios, safe staffing levels, health and safety at work and meaningful pay and pay rises."

Last month, thousands of NZNO members stopped work for an hour during paid union meetings to call for increased funding to the health sector from the Government and send a clear message that health workers would not be ignored.

The Government must keep its pre-election pledges around Pay Parity, recruitment and retention of the health workforce, supporting student nurses while they’re actually studying and making New Zealand more attractive to overseas health workers, Ms Nuku said.

"We are concerned about the health and wellbeing of our nation under this Government.

"We need pay and conditions that value nurses right across the health sector and keep them in the job. This includes sustainable funding for Pay Parity and further funds for Pay Equity, which Mr Luxon is on record as saying he would implement."

Ms Nuku said beyond the pre-election promises NZNO insists te Tiriti o Waitangi be upheld in all health settings, so Māori have equal access to a health system that works for them.

"We need training that is affordable and accessible, so more people study and stay on to become nurses and we need more Māori and Pasifika nurses, so people receive health care that fits with their culture."

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