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Flawed Policy Means Experienced Nurses Shut Out

29 June 2004

Flawed Policy Means Experienced Nurses Shut Out of Understaffed Hospitals

“A flawed policy in our DHBs means hospitals are missing out on the invaluable skills and experience of Enrolled Nurses,” said Geoff Annals, CEO of the New Zealand Nurses Organisation today.

Geoff Annals said many DHBs were enforcing a non-employment policy towards Enrolled Nurses. Some were simply not employing new ENs, while others were disestablishing EN positions and replacing them with unqualified health care assistants.

Tomorrow - 30 June - is national Enrolled Nurse Day. Enrolled Nurses have up to 30 years nursing experience and have all completed either a 12 or 18 months training programme. Enrolled nurse training was originally for 18 months. It was disestablished for 10 years and reintroduced a year ago as a 12 months programme.

“Although most New Zealanders who had hospital experiences have received care from an Enrolled Nurse, few would be aware that the role is under threat,” said Geoff Annals.

“The tragedy of this flawed policy is that the huge experience and skill-base of Enrolled Nurses is wasted and in a time when that experience is in a serious shortage.”

In Hawkes Bay, for instance, where ENs are no longer recruited, most EN positions have been disestablished and ENs are working as receptionists and caregivers. In South Canterbury ENs are not being recruited while the DHB is recruiting overseas nurses.

“This flawed policy simply does not make sense,” said Geoff Annals.

Enrolled Nurses, many of whom have been nursing for 30 years or more, provide the hands on experience that is needed in the nursing team.”

Geoff Annals said that NZNO strongly supported the important role of the EN in DHBs and the reversal of the non-employment policies.

“There are over four and a half thousand Enrolled Nurses in the country, and we have a nursing shortage,” he said.

“We need to acknowledge the huge pool of skills and experience Enrolled Nurses have brought to nursing for many years and utilise those skills and that experience to provide quality health care for New Zealanders.”

ENDS

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