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Greens carry nurses' fair pay fight into House

29 June, 2004

Greens carry nurses' fair pay fight into House

The Green Party is calling on the Government to act on the petition signed by the 125,000 New Zealanders demanding that safe hospital staffing levels and fair pay for nurses.

Green Health spokesperson, Sue Kedgley today helped receive the petition on the steps of Parliament.

"Labour has made a lot of supportive noises about pay equity but now is the time for action," said Ms Kedgley. "Nurses are the most glaring example of an entire, largely female, profession that is undervalued and significantly underpaid. While nurses salaries start at around $30,000, police start at $40,000 and can earn over $60,000 on the basic salary scale."

Ms Kedgley, who will question the Health Minister about her Government's intentions in regard to the petition during Question Time in the House this afternoon, also pointed out that the burden placed on under-paid nurses put patient safety at risk.

"The Green Party backs the Nurses Organisation's call for a binding ratio of one nurse to between four and six patients, depending on the size of hospital. Unsafe staffing ratios compromise patient safety and help contribute to the migration of our talented nursing staff to counties where their skills are recognised and rewarded.

"The hospital system is 2000 nurses short, and the government is spending about $100 million a year trying to recruit nurses," Ms Kedgley said. "The fact is, we will never overcome the chronic shortage of nurses in our hospitals until nurses are fairly paid."

Ms Kedgley's question to the Health Minister today: Is she going to act on the call of 125,000 New Zealanders who have signed a petition calling on the Government to fund district health boards so they can pay nurses fairly and ensure safe staffing levels; if not, why not?


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