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Nursing Situation Critical

6 August 2004

Nursing Situation Critical

An international study showing that 23 per cent of New Zealand nurses are trained elsewhere should be of grave concern to the Minister of Health, said New Zealand First’s health spokesperson Barbara Stewart.

“The Nurses Organisation estimates that there is currently a shortage of 2,000 nurses and our policy of relying on overseas nurses to fix our nursing shortage is unsustainable.

“Given the international marketplace for nursing skills, foreign nurses can simply move elsewhere at a moment’s notice. If a significant number of them do so the health system will be even more chaotic than it is at present, said Mrs Stewart.

“The problem is compounded by the Government’s cavalier attitude towards addressing the pay inequities of those nurses who have not headed offshore already for better pay and conditions or who have simply left the profession entirely.

“In November 2003 a 9000 signature petition asking for money to be set aside in the 2004 budget for a fair pay settlement for nurses was presented to the Associate Health Minister to no avail. Then in June 2004 a petition with 125,000 signatures was presented calling for the Government to fund DHBs to pay nursing staff fairly and to ensure staffing levels were safe for patients and nursing staff. Again with no significant response. Nurses must be getting tired of being treated so shabbily.

“The Government still doesn’t seem to think it has a problem, but if it has a plan in mind to ensure there are enough nurses in future, now is the time to share it with the rest of us.

“New Zealand First is committed to ensuring that nurses receive pay equity in order to keep them in their own country. If this Government won’t provide it, they know which way to cast their vote at the next election, said Mrs Stewart.


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