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GPNZ Calls For Government To Fund Nurses’ Pay Increase

General Practice New Zealand (GPNZ) is calling on the Government to fund an increase in primary care nurses’ pay to match that of their hospital colleagues, and avoid a continuation of this week’s industrial action.

GPNZ Chair and Karori GP, Dr Jeff Lowe said: ‘We fully support the nurses striking this week, but it’s disappointing that our nurses have had to resort to this. General practices want to be able to pay their nurses more, but it’s impossible unless the Government makes new funding available.

‘Practice income is largely controlled by the Government, who set the maximum level of fees they can charge and who they can charge, plus the funding they receive for each patient enrolled. We made representations to the Ministry of Health earlier this year for an increase in funding that would have allowed us more flexibility with nurses’ pay, but our request was denied.’

Most practices will open as normal on September 3, while New Zealand Nursing Organisation members who are part of the primary care MECA arrangements are on strike, though some nurse-led appointments are being postponed.

GPNZ CEO, Liz Stockley said: ‘We want pay equity for our nurses. It is simply not fair that nurses are being financially penalised - earning on average 10% less than their DHB-employed counterparts – because they choose to work in primary care. Many practices are already struggling financially, and only additional funding can cover the pay increase their nurses deserve.’

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Dr Lowe added: ‘Primary care nurses are the core of health promotion, illness prevention and care and support for people with complex long-term conditions. Where would the country’s COVID-19 testing strategy or our future vaccine strategy be without our primary care nurses?

‘We need to build and develop our primary care nursing teams to achieve the improvements in population health we’re aiming for, but instead we risk turning them away from these attractive careers. The Government needs to step in and show how much they value this essential workforce.’

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