NZNO warns the government: “You haven’t seen anything yet!

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The New Zealand Nurses Organization (NZNO) says Aotearoa New Zealand is dangerously under-prepared for what appears to be an inevitable tsunami of community-based Covid cases that could completely shatter our healthcare system, and that nurses must be part of all the proposed solutions.

NZNO Kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku says nurses are a highly skilled workforce and have faced ever increasing demands, but they are already exhausted and severely understaffed. Meanwhile, our healthcare system is inadequate to meet the demands of COVID, which is just starting to have an impact.

“Basically we are telling the government that, although you admit that things are terribly bad right now, ‘you haven’t seen anything yet’, and we would have been better prepared if you hadn’t decided to go it. alone around nursing.

“The government has not acted quickly enough and, because it has not consulted the nursing experts or the nurses union, we have band-aid solutions applied everywhere that only serve to devalue nurses, while the heart of the matter has remained unanswered. “

Ms Nuku says the 300 monthly MIQ spots advertised for health workers is good news, but it was a surprise far too small, far too late.

“These 300 monthly health workers will be spread across health sectors including paramedical care, elderly care, primary care, and Maori and Iwi providers from two months – and they will need time to adapt to the Aotearoa health system in New Zealand.

“Meanwhile, we have approximately 3,500 vacant nursing positions nationwide in the health sector. Even if nurses filled the 300 MIQ spaces each month, we wouldn’t break even in a year, because so many nurses keep leaving.

“So we need to have a say in how these 300 health workers are selected and deployed each month.”

Ms Nuku also said that the government’s touted solution of training nurses to work in intensive care units (ICUs) is also woefully inadequate.

“It takes two or three years after graduation to become a competent critical care nurse. Nurses are amazing, but it’s not a fair or realistic long-term solution to expect them to function professionally in critical care environments based on four hours of online training. It will put nurses and patients at risk. “

She says the government must consult with unions and nursing professionals to resolve nursing problems so that suitably workable solutions can be found.

“How are we going to get the right kinds of foreign nurses to come here?” What are we doing to keep our nursing graduates here and in the profession? These issues should have been addressed months ago, but they are still not really at the center of our concerns.

“And it’s about more than hospitals and COVID. Evidence from around the world shows people are suffering and / or dying in other parts of health systems because so many resources have been reallocated to the response. to COVID.

“The NZNO must be at the table when nursing matters are decided by the government and the situation we find ourselves in now is likely to worsen because this has not happened.”


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