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Practice Nurses Bear Brunt Of Waiting List Cull

11 September 2006

Practice Nurses Bear the Brunt Of Waiting List Cull

“The culling of waiting lists by sending patients back to GP practices will mean a bigger workload for already stretched practice nurses,” said Rosemary Minto, Chair of the New Zealand Nurses Organisation College of Practice Nurses today.

“The practice nurse is often the one bearing the brunt of this policy, dealing with the calls of anxious, frustrated and often understandably angry patients,” she said.

Rosemary Minto said that, although sending patients back to GP surgeries increases the workload of the entire practice, it impacts particularly on practice nurses.

“The reality is that it is frequently the practice nurse who liaises with the patient, the GP and the hospital, assisting with pain management and providing advice and support for overwrought patients and their families,” she said.

Rosemary Minto said it is ironic that, while practice nurses are required to play an increasingly specialised role they have to fight for pay parity with their counterparts in public hospitals, who earn nearly $200 more a week.

“There is no doubt that the skills, expertise and experience required of practice nurses is at least equal to that required to work in public hospital wards,” she said.

“This must be reflected in our pay or there simply will not be enough practice nurses to carry out this work.

An NZNO survey conducted in July showed that over 85% of practice nurses say their job is more complex than two years ago. One third of NZNO members participating in the survey reported increased difficulty recruiting staff at their workplaces. Survey respondents overwhelmingly attributed these problems to the pay gap with DHBs.

NZNO is currently in negotiations with 650 primary health employers seeking parity of pay and conditions with DHBs. NZNO has estimated the cost of pay parity with DHBs to be around $22 million, and has been calling for Government to provide additional funding.

ENDS

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