15 Apr 2023

Nurses gather nationwide to protest over staff shortages, pay and conditions

1:45 pm on 15 April 2023
Auckland nurses attend rally over pay, conditions

A group of nurses who joined the rally in Auckland. Photo: RNZ / Liu Chen

Rallies of nurses are underway in 20 locations around the country calling on political parties to address staff shortages.

The Nurses Organisation said it was calling on its 57,000 members to unite against unsafe staffing levels and an under-valuing of the work they do.

Nurses are being joined by midwives, health care assistants and kaimahi hauora working in hospitals, aged care, primary health care, Plunket and hospices as well as those involved with Māori healthcare.

Auckland nurses attend rally over pay, conditions

Nurses with placards make their feelings clear in Auckland. Photo: RNZ / Liu Chen

The organisation's spokesperson for Auckland, Kerri Nuku, said the rallies were about highlighting the crisis.

"The crisis is the short staffing, the continual under-assessment, inadequate funding of the health sector. It is an essential resource and therefore the impact it has had on communities."

Nuku said she hoped the community would hear the stories of nursing and get behind their cause. She also expressed the hope the problems in the sector would be an election issue.

This week NZNO chief executive Paul Goulter said in a statement the industrial action was a chance to call on politicians to have policies to address the nursing shortage.

"So much has been asked of nurses, and they have delivered like the courageous and professional workforce they are, right across the health sector.

"But decades of poor planning, inadequate funding and outright neglect across successive governments have led us to a time of absolute crisis in terms of pay, staffing resources and morale across the nursing sector."

He said it was soul-destroying for nurses to know they were not providing adequate care and it was little wonder thousands were leaving to work in Australia.

The NZNO intends launching a petition at the rallies calling on political parties to fix the nursing crisis.

Goulter said the country needed another 4000-5000 nurses and everything possible should be done "without delay".

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