Pay parity Budget disappointment for primary care nursing

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Pay parity Budget disappointment for primary care nursing

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Kerri Nuku
The health Budget is a “fizzer” focused on providing the new entities with a clear slate rather than addressing inequities, says NZNO Kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku 

News and reaction to Budget 2022

...to see no additional funding for this imperative part of our healthcare workforce is devastating

Nurses working in general practice and for iwi and Māori providers will be “devastated” and continue to feel undervalued after yesterday’s Budget, say nurse leaders.

NZNO kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku says the Budget is “hugely disappointing” for not addressing the disparity issues faced by nurses in the primary care sector for years, particularly iwi and Māori provider nurses.

Ms Nuku says there doesn’t appear to be any funding allocation for pay parity with DHB nurses and the Budget will continue to see nurses feel undervalued.

Nurses out in cold 

The lack of additional funding for primary care nurses in the Budget also disappointed Gabrielle Lord, ProCare’s nursing director and general manager practice services.

“Nurses have been the backbone of caring for patients while we’ve dealt with the global pandemic over the last two years, so to see no additional funding for this imperative part of our healthcare workforce is devastating,” Ms Lord says in an emailed statement.

“This is even more true when you consider the state of the ongoing pay equity settlements.

“We urgently need more money for our nurses, and they need to be paid the same rate as their DHB colleagues.”

Māori provider nurses miss out again 

Ms Nuku says pay parity is even more of an issue for Māori, iwi and Pacific provider nurses, who have less of a voice than general practice nurses, and continue to slip further behind.

Funding has been tagged for Māori workforce development in the Budget but she says it is shared across the whole Māori health workforce, “so it’s not going to address the issues we have at present with Maori and iwi providers and the disparity for nurses in that sector”.

She says the Budget allocation for developing Māori primary providers was also just “token” and not enough to make meaningful change.

Ms Nuku describes the overall health Budget as a “real fizzer” rather than a Budget focused on reducing inequity.

“It’s almost like we’ve forgotten the past and we’re moving on with a clear slate and not addressing the issues or the depth of inequities that existed prior,” she says.

“We’re hoping these new entities and investing in going forward is going to bridge the inequities. It’s not going to happen.”

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Pay equity alloction but not pay parity 

Vote Health documents show that the Government has budgeted $599.3 million for pay equity in 2021/22 and $204.19 million a year for the following four years.

It does not detail what the funding is for, but a lion’s share will be pegged for the pending settlement of the DHB nurse pay equity offer.

Health minister Andrew Little has indicated the current settlement offer, if accepted, will cost about $520 million.

This month DHB administration and clerical workers also approved an historic pay equity settlement involving pay rises of up to 40 per cent.

There is also a new Budget allocation for topping up support worker pay equity rates, first introduced under the Support Workers (Pay Equity) Settlements Act 2017, by just over $40 million year (the vast majority funded from Vote Health).

There is no readily apparent pay parity allocation in the Budget to extend DHB nurse and clerical pay equity rates to non-DHB health workers.

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