24 January 2013: The country’s largest nursing organisation, the New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO), has a new president, Tauranga-based practice nurse Marion Guy. She won a three-way contest to co-lead the 46,000-member professional and industrial body.
Guy will be joined in the leadership of NZNO by Hawke’s Bay primary health care nurse manager, Kerri Nuku, who was appointed NZNO’s kaiwhakahaere at the annual general hui of Te Runanga o Aotearoa NZNO last year. A new NZNO constitution, adopted last year, provides for a bicultural leadership model and Guy and Nuku will assume the co-leadership next month.
Promoting the professional aspirations of nurses and ensuring nurses’ voices are heard in every national health forum are two of Guy’s priorities. She would also like more focus on the positive aspects of nursing.
“Fair pay and good working conditions are essential for the profession and for patient care and we must always work towards improving conditions. We must also focus our attention on our professional role and ensuring that is understood and respected. The key to that is in building strong relationships with the Ministry of Health, the Minister of Health and other health professionals. We must also remember why we became nurses and use the skills we have learnt through nursing, through postgraduate education and evidence-based practice in the best possible way,” she said. “Within NZNO there is a vast amount of specialist nursing expertise and I want that expertise used to promote the profession and the organisation.”
Promoting a culture change within nursing workplaces to ensure bullying and harassment, particularly of student nurses, is eradicated is a priority for the new NZNO president. She also wants to focus on the aged-care sector to ensure nurses and caregivers get improved pay and education opportunities, which will lead to better quality of care.
Guy would like to see input from the grassroots to the development of any national nursing workforce plan. “Too often plans and strategies have been developed by those with no understanding of the role and function of nursing. Nurses need to be involved to ensure a coherent workforce plan steers nursing into the future.”
She would be opposed to any moves towards deregulation. “We need the Nursing Council to regulate the profession for public safety, through ensuring all nurses meet certain standards and are competent to practise.”
Guy sits on many nursing and health governance boards, including the International Council of Nurses, the National Health Board, the Bay of Plenty District Health Board and the Western Bay of Plenty Primary Health Organisation. She has also served as NZNO president before, from 2005-2009. She will resign as a practice nurse to take up what is now a full-time, paid presidency, following the advent of a new NZNO constitution last year.