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Real Answers For A Very Real Problem

Real Answers For A Very Real Problem

While it is imperative that the Government officially recognises that our nurses are under-paid, overworked and struggling under heavy patient loads, fixed nursing ratios are not the answer, ACT New Zealand Health Spokesman Heather Roy said today.

"Although I am sympathetic to the plight of nurses throughout the country, the real problem requiring urgent attention is that of nationwide staff shortages," Mrs Roy said.

"A fixed patient-to-nurses ratio would present difficulties for all hospital wards. When the number of patients exceeds the ratio, patients would be turned away from hospitals. Only the sickest would be admitted while others, still needing hospital care, would be sent home.

"This would then see the problem transferred to doctors - allowing hospital management or the Government to avoid responsibility.

"Health Minister Annette King claims that the answer lies with `magnet hospitals' - whatever that means: apparently nurses will be attracted to hospitals like iron filings, for no more pay.

"The Government claims the answer is pay equity. This is, of course, a red herring - if Labour wanted to pay nurses more, it could use its $6 billion surplus to do so today. Instead, however, the Government choose to abuse its position as monopoly health employer.

"The real answer lies with recognising nurses as valued members of the health industry, and paying them appropriately. At the moment, the taxpayer trains our health professionals for export - and who could blame them for seeking better pay and working conditions overseas?" Mrs Roy said.

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