“The Government’s failure to consider nurses outside District Health Boards and Te Whatu Ora is piling more pressure onto our straining health system as primary health care and Plunket nurses strike,” says ACT Deputy Leader and Health spokesperson Brooke van Velden.

“Having had five years to fix this issue, the Government has made a hash of the pay equity issue for nurses and carers. It should have focused on paying nurses for the job they do, rather than their immediate employer. Instead, we have Government policy that is discriminatory against those who do not work for a DHB/Te Whatu Ora.

“It should have approached these negotiations from the point of view that across Government, it would pay based on the work done rather than the place of work. That might have meant less money available for DHB employees, but it would only be fair if workers outside DHBs benefited too.

“The treatment of General Practice (GP) clinics and the nurses in them reflects the Government putting its ideology ahead of the patients. GP clinics are private businesses, like much of the aged care sector. The current Government’s philosophical opposition to private businesses providing healthcare is one of the biggest impediments to getting healthcare outcomes for patients.

“Declining healthcare standards show New Zealand is losing its first world status. As I revealed last month, New Zealand has 418 fewer nurses per capita than Australia. This ratio has probably worsened after the departures of the last year. The next Government will have to begin an all-out push for economic growth to regain first world status.

“The vultures are circling as New Zealand loses its first world status. The Government of Victoria is aggressively advertising for nurses to cross the ditch, and with the higher pay available nurses will continue to leave.

“In the midst of a global pandemic we are desperately short of nurses. Once again Labour’s mismanagement has created chaos in our health system.

“It’s time to get real on the health crisis. Make it easier for nurses to come to New Zealand, treat them equally regardless of their employer, and focus on growing the economy so we can afford to pay for a first world health system. If we don’t New Zealand will keep slipping behind the rest of the world.”

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