Millions of dollars for health care reform should instead be spent to increase nurses’ wages – National Party
“I think in that context, which is hard to explain, is why the budget would announce $ 486 million in layers of healthcare restructuring and layers of bureaucracy and you put a freeze on doctors and nurses’ salaries. who administer the coronavirus vaccine. “
He said people would probably go to Australia because of the wage freeze.
“We should have huge concerns that this will drag our health workers overseas.”
He said it was disappointing that nurses, who were working on the front lines during the pandemic, had to strike for better wages and staffing. However, he couldn’t say how much the party would be able to offer nurses if they were in power.
“We don’t know what’s under the hood [with Treasury figures], so we cannot commit to numbers. But what I can tell you is that if I had a choice between $ 486 million and thousands of bureaucrats in a healthcare restructuring or removing the salary freeze and upgrading nurses, I’m sure. that I know what I would do and I think that’s probably what New Zealanders would do as well. “
Health Minister Andrew Little told Morning Report the money for the system overhaul respected an agreement in a previous intensive care management salary settlement, which aims to increase the number of nurses in hospitals .
“Ten DHBs say they’ll be mostly here by the end of this month, seven more maybe by the end of the year, three more, who knows when, next year.
“Because we have this disaggregated health administration system, we can’t get any consistency in our hospitals… the reason we need these reforms is to get more consistent decision-making, better standards and more. a better working life for those who work in the system. “
Little said he sympathized with the nurses and recognized their efforts amid the pandemic and ongoing staffing issues.
“Frontline nurses are really under pressure, are under real pressure and they have rightly demanded to be fairly rewarded and to have compensation levels that reflect the skills and responsibilities they take on.
“As a minister, I fear there is a critical workforce that thinks they are doing it and that the only way to have their voices heard is through industrial action. is not a criticism of them, it is a respect for the judgment that they have collectively made.
“I can consider it my responsibility as a minister to make sure that I do … whatever we can to address the concerns they have.”
“They think they are worth more than that”
Glenda Alexander, director of industrial services at the New Zealand Nurses Organization (NZNO), told Morning Report that the revised salary offer was not good enough as members had not received a salary increase for two years .
“They think they’re worth more than that.”
She said nurses made between $ 54,000 and $ 80,000, but did not consider it a lot given their skills, knowledge and responsibilities.
DHB’s revised offer provided a down payment of $ 4,000 to all staff, before their pay equity claim was settled later this year.
“This lump sum payment is effectively taxed and doesn’t go over their rates of pay, so it doesn’t really increase rates of pay on an ongoing basis, so it’s really a partial payment of something potentially already owed to them.” , said Alexander.
Health Minister Andrew Little said the offer reflected the principles of wage restraint the government had set out and gave those at the bottom of the ladder a higher percentage increase than those at the top.
“But this is in the context of the wage restriction and in the context of the still incomplete pay equity agreement that has yet to be finalized and worked out.
“It should be concluded later this year or early next year, but it will also have an impact.
“There are the pay levels that are represented in the collective agreement, so the dollar rate goes up on those scales and pay levels, that’s one thing.
“Then there is the pay equity process … [which] will eventually lead to structural increases for nurses and midwives.
“It was expected to be largely over by now, it’s not, it’s a lot more complex, but it has a starting point, December 2019. So from now on it there will be compensation due to nurses and midwives and orderlies. “
When asked why the two parts were condensed into one, he replied, “At the end of the day, it’s about putting money in the hands of people… and we know the result of the pay increases. negotiated as well as the result of the pay equity agreement, when it is concluded, is that there are structural increases in the rates of pay for people. “
Alexander also wanted DHB to tackle understaffing as well as pay issues.
“The irony being that they actually ask for more nurses on strike day than is usually the case due to understaffing.
“This is what happens on a day-to-day basis, there just aren’t enough staff to do the job safely and that’s what has been our problem throughout this conflict.
“There are places where it is worse and places where it is a little better but overall it is the same, there are just not enough people to do the job that is required.
“People are exhausted, they are afraid of making mistakes and mistakes.”
Little said he would need to investigate any claims suggesting that the coverage provided for these cases was greater than normal days.