Nurses accept latest DHB offer

By Moana Makapelu Lee

The nurses union have accepted the latest offer from District Health Boards (DHBs) almost a month after their most recent strike.

The fifth offer by DHB was agreed to after more than 30,000 nurses took to an online ballot.

Industrial Services Manager Cee Payne says a ‘significant majority’ were in favour.  The deal brings an end to a year of negotiations and strikes.

Nurses are welcoming the $520mil offer, which includes pay rises of between 12.5 and 16 percent.  Wellington Hospital nurse Mel Anderson says, "Safe staffing is just going to be a great improvement for us."

New Zealand Nurses Oorganisation (NZNO) spokesperson Kerri Nuku says, “The main issues that were impacting on nurses was the opportunity to safely nurse, the opportunity that would guarantee a certain resourcing.

“So this additional 500 new nurses means that that's going to lighten the pressure and the workload for nurses."

The deal includes an earlier new pay step for senior nurses, improvement of safer staffing with the implementation of the Care Capacity Demand Management scheme, in addition to the promise of 500 additional new nurses.

DHBs spokesperson Jim Green says the next focus is rebuilding trust.

"It's a time to move forward now, we've got a really good framework there to carry on the work that has been in place, that is happening as we speak.”

Health Minister David Clark says the significant boost will make nursing more sustainable and attractive.

"I think we're going to see a lot more people wanting training to be nurses because they'll see it as a sustainable profession where they can contribute and be caring and compassionate."

Green says DHBs will be able to attract nurses back to New Zealand. However Anderson says this is just the first rung of the ladder.

Meanwhile the Aussie dollar continues to pull New Zealand nurses.

"I don't think it will keep nurses back.  I think people will still leave, we've also still got on my ward again another two nurses who are leaving in this last month."

It was a win for DHB nurses on Tuesday but Nuku says there are still improvements to be made across the sector.

"Unfortunately the nurses that work in Māori and iwi provider sectors, some of those nurses are getting paid up to 25% less than the DHB nurses are getting paid now.”

“So that's a problem for that sector, age care sectors, for private patients."

NZNO and DHBs are now working on implementation.