NZNO's Blog

Sometimes it’s the little things that matter


dinoScrubsWe all know there is cost cutting going on everywhere in the health system at the moment. DHBs are being forced to cuts tens of millions of dollars from their budgets and cost cutting measures (called “savings”) are being implemented in every ward and unit.

We hear every week about community health initiatives whose contracts with the DHB have been slashed. Clinics for refugee and migrant and other high needs populations are disappearing, aged care contracts are being squeezed and every hospital in the country is facing cut after cut after cut.

We know how stretched the nursing team is. Not being able to take annual leave, being called back from annual due to short staffing, vacancies not being filled, care being rationed – we hear sad stories every day.

I think it’s hard for people to get their heads around what’s actually happening in our health system. It’s hard to believe because when they or a loved one are in hospital the care they receive from the nursing team is so professional and they feel well cared for.

Today I heard that one hospital is stopping paediatric nurses from wearing bright, cartoon character scrubs. It’s a cost cutting measure. From now on all staff will wear the same plain blue scrubs.

That might not seem like a big deal; might seem sensible, even. But it’s not. It’s the little things that matter.

Being in hospital is one of the scariest things a sick child can face, and it must be pretty traumatic for family and whānau as well. Part of good nursing practice is to make the experience as comfortable as possible under the circumstances, and wearing bright, cartoon character scrubs is one way a nurse can help an ill child feel safe.

Putting paediatric nurses into plain scrubs might save the DHB a few dollars but the affect it will have on patients and families is more important than saving a few pennies. The philosophy of patient-centred care that turned paediatric wards into bright, sunny and interesting places with brightly dressed nursing staff, designed to put children and families at ease, is being turned on its head. It won’t be long now till children’s wards will be back like they were in the bad old days – dismal institutionalised places, not kid friendly at all.

That’s not what I want for our health system.


The image is from

2 thoughts on “Sometimes it’s the little things that matter

  1. What happened with Nzno negotiations with Bupa for Highfield rest home Timaru

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