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Govt blamed for Tauranga nurses strike

Sandra Lee MP Mon Aug 30 1999

Sandra Lee
MP Five hundred nurses and midwives will have the full support of the Alliance when they strike for 48-hours from Wednesday morning, Alliance deputy leader Sandra Lee said today during a visit to Tauranga.

She says Tauranga Hospital would have the money to give pay nurses better if the government axed the health funding authority, redirected public money away from private hospitals and into the public sector, and dropped the commercial-business focus of public hospitals.

The nurses are seeking a 5% pay rise from Pacific Health Ltd, which runs Tauranga Hospital. They have been offered 1.75%. The pay of nurses at the hospital has risen by only 2% in five years.

'Independent doctors say that hospital staff, especially nurses and junior doctors, are always working under 'extremely high' stress levels. The number of people living in the Tauranga region is rising quickly and hospital funding is not keeping pace because the government is not committed to the public hospital system.

'Tauranga nurses have shown how reasonable they are by accepting no pay rise at all last year when the hospital said it couldn't afford a pay rise. That can't go on forever.

'Nurses should not have to subsidise the public hospital system out of their own pockets. If the Lotto chief executive can be paid $400,000 a year, then nurses should receive recognition for doing a vitally important job.

'The Government spends $112 million a year on the health funding authority, when at least two thirds of that money could be diverted away from bureaucrats in Wellington to nurses on the front line.

'Another $200 million a year of public money goes to private hospitals instead of into the public system

'About fifteen million dollars a year is wasted in interest payments because the government makes hospitals borrow money like a commercial business, instead of at the rate the government borrows money - yet hospitals are government-owned businesses,' Sandra Lee said.

A new graduate nurses is paid $25,500 a year, while the majority of Tauranga Hospital nurses are paid around $36,000 a year.

ENDS

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