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Nurses the backbone of the health workforce

Annette KING

Health Spokesperson

11 May 2014

Nurses the backbone of the health workforce

While Kiwi mums might be getting the kudos today, tomorrow is all about recognising the essential work our nurses do in a profession that has had a major hand in shaping the health sector, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says.

“May 12 is International Nurses Day, a day which not only celebrates the anniversary of the birth of modern nursing founder, Florence Nightingale, but also acknowledges the largest health care profession in the world.

“Our nurses’ commitment to their work, often in the face of budget cuts and significant workplace restructuring, is unstinting. They are, to use a medical analogy, the backbone of the health workforce.

“We can’t be complacent, however. Over the last few years increasing numbers of graduate nurses have been forced to take other work because they are unable to find nursing positions.

“In one case a young nurse with an A grade average and a Clinical Practice Award took a job as a lifeguard after unsuccessfully applying for dozens of jobs more suited to her qualifications.

“This is at the same time DHBs around the country are experiencing staff shortages and lengthy fill times for nursing and other medical vacancies.

“The Government is paying hospitals to take on new graduate doctors. It should be looking to do the same for our nurses.

“Planning for a sustainable workforce should be a priority. It is a terrible waste of talent to be training people only to have nothing for them at the other end.

“We also have a great opportunity to enhance our nursing workforce with the use of nurse practitioners, of which there are now 140.

“DHBS should step up and make use of this valuable resource,” Annette King said

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