25 May 2023

Pay boost for thousands of GP and community nurses

1:48 pm on 25 May 2023
A nurse examines a young girl.

The announcement will see GP and community nurses receive comparable pay to hospital nurses with the same skills and experience from July. Photo: 123RF

More than 6000 GP and community nurses will be eligible for an average 8 percent pay rise from 1 July to address pay disparities with hospital nurses.

Making the announcement yesterday, Minister of Health Ayesha Verrall said nurses with the same skills and experiences should receive comparable pay, and the pay bump would address that.

Nurses in aged care, hospice, home and community support, and kaupapa Māori and Pasifika providers had their pay improved earlier this year.

But there was frustration at the time that nurses working in GP clinics had been left out.

Verrall said yesterday the government had agreed with Te Whatu Ora's updated advice to include practice nurses because a pay gap had emerged with Te Whatu Ora nurses since the initiative was first announced in November 2022.

"This funding will also lift pay rates for about 1,300 nurses and kaiāwhina who work in Family Planning, Plunket/Well Child Tamariki Ora, school nursing services, mental health and addiction, rural hospitals, telehealth, community care services and the Youth One Stop Shop," she said.

"These nurses are in addition to the 8,160 nurses and kaiāwhina who became eligible to receive pay rises under this initiative from the start of April, which means about 14,250 nurses and kaiāwhina in total will benefit from this initiative."

'Target should be 100 percent pay parity' - New Zealand Nurses Organisation

New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku welcomed the announcement as a step in the right direction.

New Zealand Nurses Organisation kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku spoke about the need for Māori nurses to take inspiration from the two day indigenous nurses Aotearoa conference.

Nurses Organisation kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku says retention of staff has been a huge challenge for general practices and community providers. Photo: Nick Tapp

"Currently pay rates for nurses and kaiāwhina working for Te Whatu Ora significantly outstrip the wages of other nurses in settings like primary health care, and this causes a real problem," she said in a statement.

Nuku said retention of staff had been a "major challenge" for general practices and community providers because - like anybody else - nurses would go where the money was when they were struggling financially.

"This causes huge inequities in the community and then emergency departments because access to care is reduced."

While there was still more to do in order to close remaining pay gaps, Nuku said the announcement was welcome.

"We say the target should be 100 percent pay parity so every nurse everywhere is equally valued, and so nurses can work where they feel they are most needed and contribute best, not where they are best paid."

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