NZNO's Blog

No nursing vacancies?


no vacanciesIn November 2013 Health Workforce New Zealand (HWNZ) briefed the Parliamentary Health Select Committee on nursing and medical workforce issues in New Zealand.

We’ve read the report of the Committee (you can find it here ) and have come to the conclusion that HWNZ must be telling the members of parliament what they think they want to hear. It makes no sense to us at all.

Here’s what the Health Select Committee report says about nursing:

“HWNZ told us that at present there are no nursing vacancies, and district health boards are employing newly qualified nurses on a casual basis rather than in graduate positions.However, the average age of nurses is 50, and many are expected to leave nursing when the economy moves out of recession. This will result in vacancies, and HWNZ is working to ensure an adequate, sustainable nursing workforce over the next decade. For example, a “nursing pipeline working group” is being established to align nursing student numbers with employment opportunities.”

HWNZ’s assertion that “there are no nursing vacancies” is patently untrue. NZNO members tell us that they are constantly working under stress, that nurses on leave are not replaced and that vacancies are taking months to fill or are not being filled at all. All these factors create constant churn in the workforce, with the nursing team working short-staffed and under pressure. There is no fat in the system and patient safety and quality care is being compromised as a result.

Why is HWNZ pulling the wool over the Parliamentarian’s eyes? We know, and they do too, that good policy and legislation can only happen when select committees receive free, frank and honest advice. The Health Select Committee has said they will “monitor the situation with interest” – if they knew the truth they would be taking urgent action.

NZNO is doing what we can; lobbying, researching, planning, listening to members and finding solutions to the crisis in the nursing workforce. What we need now is for HWNZ to get on board and do the job they are supposed to do – engage, listen, plan, act.

12 thoughts on “No nursing vacancies?

  1. The fact that so many nurses feel unable to take meal breaks, and, in some areas, annual leave, should be more than enough proof for politicians that our hospitals are dangerously understaffed. And when exactly are all the 50-plus nurses expected to leave their jobs? In my opinion, this will happen not because of any upturn in the economy but because many nurses are becoming burnt out by the unsafe, unrealistic loads being placed on them.

  2. Nurses are there own worst enemies. Nurses know what is going on but they continue to allow themselves to be taken advantage of. We are an occupational group that care.We allow ourselves to continue to care no matter what is happening with our working conditions meal breaks are not being taken because we do not enforce our contractual conditions we feel we have failed if we do we feel we are letting others down and this is compounded by a hierachial structure of nurses who are afraid that under performance will make them appear weak and cowardly nurses are shocking when it comes to conflict and confrontation with their managers . It is easier to just play along and get on with it. We are fantastic when it comes to being a patients advocate but not for advocating for each other Listen to the tea room conversations and then try and get those comments put into action. It is all too much for nurses to follow thru with an action that with persererance can result in a change. Instead it stays in the tea room and is taken home.
    The nzno is not just a delegate or an organiser it is all members. This is what a union is… united we stand …but the majority of members do not take an interest and the few that do have problems with engagement with those members. The last MECA was a clear example with only a small percentage of members voting. The majority stating they were unable to due to work load issues yet meetings were staged at times during and after shifts to me this is a clear indication that nurses need to help themselves power to make change is through numbers uniting and standing up making a clear statement that we have had enough and parliament will listen my message is support your nzno delegates encourage engagement with management but stay true to your values this year is an election year and another MECA is brewing Now is the time to act get your work place engaging and start discussing the issues

  3. Conditions for nurses are deteriorating – who is to blame ? Nurses themselves – if you do what you have always done – you will get what you have always got – I agree totally with the above article – nurses need to be true to their convictions – stop complaining behind closed doors and stand up and be counted -think not only of your safety but also the safety of your patients. Where has the empathy and patient safety gone – it appears that tasks are now more important than people. The expectation of a registered nurse with increased patient numbers and poor rostering is now making it an unsafe profession for both patient and nurse . Why should nurses go without meal breaks – work overtime with no pay – have annual leave declined on a regular basis – no other profession would put up with this – but nurses do.

  4. our hospital has been in an Emergency state of staffing! and the DHB have been putting out for applicants from Australia and UK as we do not appear to be able to keep or attract particularly senior nurses but when the wards needing agreed 6 per shift to cover at least , and you go on duty to constant 3-4 it is burning out staff and safety is compromised for all. Some reality reporting needs to be done!

  5. Why are our agencies (like HWNZ) so afraid of telling the truth? There is a toxic, bullying, overtly political culture and a whiff of the emperor’s new clothes about virtually all reporting of nurse numbers, nurse jobs and nurse vacancies. Of course it is difficult balancing 50 thousand plus posts and their specialisms, shift availability, experience, training and preferences all over New Zealand – especially with a 3-4 year lag from starting training to being useful: but unless facts are shared truthfully, this demoralising shambles will continue.

  6. “HWNZ told us that at present there are no nursing vacancies, and district health boards are employing newly qualified nurses on a casual basis rather than in graduate positions” This is simply not true. The only way for a new grad to get a job with a DHB is via NETP, a full time programme. I (and so many others) am finding it so disheartening that we have completed our degrees and there are no jobs for us. It’s absurd that there are so many jobs available that we can’t apply for. I have taken the time to apply for a number of jobs regardless but it seems that employers are just not interested in employing new grads, not even on a casual basis. What is the government doing about this? As far as I can tell they are turning a blind eye despite the numrous occasions of media attention.

    • I am also a new grad and I have applied to numerous jobs always to get the same response – we do not want new grads.
      I have door knocked every where and I got the same response.
      I am prepared to work full or part time. Anything to get me practicing what I have learned.
      The nursing degree seems to me now a useless piece of paper because no one in this nation seems to value the new grads and all the skills we have learned in the last 3 years.

      • Its not just new grads that are being devalued, try having 30 years of senior nursing experience behind you and not being able to get permanent work, and as for speaking out well, maybe these pressuring others to speak out about the issues facing nurses should take a step back and consider for one minute the bullying culture of this profession because I can assure you, ‘blacklisting’ is alive and well within the health profession!


  7. We too are always understaffed. Pt loads of 5-6 is the norm with trendcare acuity often between 10-12 hrs per rn. This is not safe. People are not being replaced when called in sick, watches are often not provided due to budgets and hca’s given annual leave of Xmas period for at least 2-3 weeks making rn’s do these duties as well. When will it end? I have only been nursing for a handful of years and cannot believe this is the career I have entered into! Bullying is tolerated on our ward and people are too scared to speak up about conditions. Only new grads and level 2 rn’s are being employed at our dhb leaving experienced rn’s to work on casual pool, never able to plan ahead or guarantee money will come in each week, resulting in unsafe levels of knowledge on the wards. It’s all about cutting expenditure to make the budgets look great. Our patients are not aware of this and still expect us to provide outstanding nursing care. We are not super human!
    Annual leave is often declined on our ward also. I would not recommend this as a career path for my children unless something gives.

  8. We have allowed this to happen to us, as a delegate during the last negotiations I was astounded at the lack of interest, knowledge and drive nurses had. Since then all I have heard is constant moaning at the lack of a decent pay rise and the deterioration of working conditions. Nurses must stop blaming the NZNO for a rotten deal last time around most of you didn’t vote and the ones who did the majority agreed to the deal on the table. We are a force to be reckoned with lets stop pussy footing around stand up for ourselves, drive our own destiny. We are a huge workforce and can change and challenge the situation we find ourselves in, or are we a profession of martyrs who like to moan but really don’t want to work on improving our working conditions and more importantly the time we have to care for our patients.

  9. I have read all of the above and no doubt there are hundreds of nurses out there that feel the same -” Do something about it is all I can say – words are cheap – I resigned from my position as a registered nurse as I was no longer prepared to put up with the bullying behaviour of some managers and the unsafe expectation of a registered nurse in a DHB – nor was I prepared to put my self or my patients at risk any longer – As Kate said – we are not super human – we do need regular annual leave and our breaks – eventually someone will have to listen – lets hope it is before it is too late. People are more important than budgets – reduce the top tier !!

  10. I think Liz was a bit disingenuous to leave out the last sentence from the HOR Summary, “HWNZ is also investing in nurses through Nursing Matters in collaboration with the National Nurses Organisation and Health Workforce Australia”. Regardless, it is well known among the nursing intelligensia that the NZNO is quietly paid off to prevent the nursing mainstream from causing issues for DHBs and accept pay that is 45-80% lower than in developed countries such as Australia and America. Hence the lack of weekly strikes any foreign union would arrange in a heatbeat. I direct both new grads and settled RNs to sell up, pack the kids and move on: heaven for nursing exists elsewhere [id est: Mid-South U.S. et al].

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