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Major Political Parties Let Aged Care Workers Down

Media Release:

Major Political Parties Let Aged Care Workers Down

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) is disappointed that neither the National nor Labour parties have committed to the significant investment that the aged care sector needs.

Both Labour and National have announced their election policies for aged care and while Labour’s policy can be considered slightly better than Nationals, both parties have refused to address the crisis that the sector is currently experiencing.

The National Party have signalled that they will provide an additional $18 million to the aged care sector to provide for wage increases for registered nursing staff.

“We welcome this investment but are extremely concerned that there does not appear to be a mechanism to ensure that any additional funding goes directly into the pockets of registered nurses.” Lynley Mulrine, NZNO Industrial Advisor, said.

“It also seems that National does not understand that 90% of the work performed in aged care facilities is provided by unregulated caregivers. Nurses are not the bulk of the workforce in aged care. Nationals investment demonstrates that they have little or no understanding of the needs of the sector, in the short or long term”

“Labour appears to have a better understanding of the issues and we welcome Labour’s attempt to ensure that there are qualifications for caregivers. Labour has also signalled a commitment to working towards having the appropriate levels of staffing, or safe staffing, in residential aged care but an additional $13 million in the 2008-2009 is a drop in the bucket. We believe the funding needs of the sector are closer to $200 million. Labour does appear to have a long term strategy which is positive”

“Labour has announced plans to address training and minimum staffing levels over the next five years, but far more money will be required to address these issues and pay parity for caregivers and nurses in the sector.”

“Caregivers’ pay has not been mentioned by either party. These workers earn barely more than the minimum wage and frequently leave their jobs caring for the elderly to work in supermarkets or petrol stations where they will be paid more,” said Mulrine.

“Workers have been expecting both major parties to commit to the provision of high quality care for the elderly. Both parties have neglected to do this.”

ENDS

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