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Need For Targeted Funding for Pay

31 May 2006

Wrangling Over GP Fees Shows Need For Targeted Funding for Pay

“The breakdown of negotiations between DHBs and GPs over patient fees shows the complexity of a system where government funds private businesses to provide public services,” said New Zealand Nurses Organisation spokesperson, Chris Wilson today.

“Unfortunately the wrangling that results is bad for patients because it stands in the way of what is good for patients - reduced fees.”
Chris Wilson said government must act to avoid a similar situation over pay rates for the primary health workforce.

“This issue shows just how important it is that government clearly ring fences funding to providers in primary healthcare to close the pay gap with DHBs,” she said.

“It simply will not work to hand over money to the sector and then expect that money to be spent on paying the workforce fairly, if this is not a requirement of receiving the funding in the first place.”
Chris Wilson said closing the pay gap was now becoming urgent, as the gap was set to widen on July 1.

On that date, nurses in public hospitals would receive the last installment of the NZNO “fair pay” pay settlement, creating a gap of nearly $200 a week between them and their counterparts working on primary health.

“The pay gap is already creating recruitment and retention difficulties in primary health,” said Chris Wilson.

“It is absolutely vital that our members in primary health achieve pay parity before these difficulties become a crisis.”

Chris Wilson said NZNO negotiations with the 650 primary health care employers were progressing but it was clear however that a fair pay settlement depended on additional government funding, targeted to the primary health care workforce.
The amount required for pay parity has been estimated to be around $22 million. Negotiations resume on June 8.


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