NZNO's Blog


NZ must walk away from the TPPA

FB coverThe leaks are coming thick and fast as Trans Pacific Partnership talks are reaching their conclusion. From what we know, it seems there are many downsides and not many benefits for our nation.

In the words of Kenny Rogers, “You’ve got to know when to hold ’em. Know when to fold ’em.”

Well, we think it’s time to fold ‘em.

We’re worried that Trade Minister Tim Groser is afraid he would lose face if New Zealand was to walk away from the deal at this late stage, but it’s what we need to do.

A trade deal that privileges big business over nations, that reduces our ability to purchase affordable medicines, that will impact on our health and well-being in many ways is not a deal we need.

Sometimes the bravest thing to do is walk away.


You might be interested in some of our other writings about the TPPA

Don’t sign our future away

Who’s in charge here?

Why the TPPA is a health issue

Nurses support the call for TPPA transparency and health check

NZNO sends open letter about TPPA to Prime Minister

It’s our future – we want a say

TPPA not democratic and not right nurses say

Pharmac under attack



Ethical end of life care

Film-Colour-71Jane MacGeorge is NZNO’s nursing and professional services manager and a nurse with a deep understanding of palliative care and end of life issues.

There has been a lot of discussion lately about “assisted suicide” or “euthanasia”, a lot of it stemming from the case of patient with brain cancer, Lecretia Seales, who petitioned the court to allow her GP to assist her to die. Lecretia lost her bid to die with the dignity she desired but her situation has opened the way for discussions that might previously have been taboo.

Talking about end of life decisions and care is important, as every NZNO member knows. The work we do to ease pain and lighten the path to dying is a fundamental part of our role as nurses and caregivers.

An AUT study of 650 GPs found 359 had made decisions such as withdrawing treatment or alleviating pain, taking into account the probability they may hasten death. One of the findings of the study was that even though it was doctors prescribing, in most cases it was nurses who were administering the drugs.

That finding opens a can of worms… End of life care and decisions are extremely complex, challenging and fraught with ethical dilemmas. Nurses need to understand all viewpoints to advocate in the best interest of the patient and to make sure the patients’ rights are respected and supported. Understandably, health care professionals may sometimes need to be mindful of legal and ethical implications.

The reality is that patients die within every health setting; in the community under the care of the primary health team, in EDs, in wards, in rest homes and in other palliative care settings. Nurses need to work within their scopes of practice and be aware of the ethical issues involved in supporting patients and whānau who are experiencing dying and death.

The role of the nurse is critical in the delivery and planning of a dying person’s care. We are advocates for safe, compassionate and ethical end of life care. We have a professional responsibility to provide appropriate care to our patients.

We need to have a good understanding of legislation and regulation and ensure we comply with the code of rights and the policy and guidelines within our practice specialty and organisation.

We are often faced with challenging decisions when caring for people at the end of life. It is important we question any medications that are not prescribed in an appropriate manner. In these situations our hope is that the whole healthcare team can discuss different treatment options and decisions with the prescriber to support quality end of life care.

Above all, it is important we understand our patient’s wishes. A healthy healthcare system places the patient at the centre of every decision. When we use this as the basis for our decision-making, at the end of life, at the beginning and everywhere in between, we can be sure that we will provide the right care at the right time in the right place.


Together we are stronger

DHB header for blog


Together we are stronger: some reflections on DHB MECA bargaining.

Lesley Harry is the industrial adviser for the DHB sector and has been leading the NZNO negotiation team in bargaining with the DHBs. Lesley is a longtime activist who works tirelessly for a better working life for NZNO members.

Since the end of last year, NZNO has been in a time of incredible busyness and energy, because of the collective agreement negotiations between 26,000 members and DHBs.

Collective bargaining can be the best of times and (sometimes) the worst of times for unions and union members. It can be disappointing when the employer doesn’t recognise the worth of their workers, or when the discussions get stuck, and it can be hard waiting for news when we don’t know what will happen or when.

On the other hand, it has been totally exciting to see the outpouring of collective creative energy of our members on action days and at worksite meetings. NZNO members are skilled bakers and costumists, artists, photographers, organisers, decorators, activists and speakers, and are also hilarious!

We see the best of you all in your collective actions and displays of strength and solidarity – and it’s slightly overwhelming when we see letters flooding back in to realise just how many of you there are!

This incredible energy has had a solid impact so far. When the first offer was taken out for DHB members to vote on, there was a resounding ‘no’, followed up by direct action.

The DHBs and NZNO were coming from very different positions, standing far apart. Since then our negotiating team has made progress in mediation, buoyed by your support. You can be absolutely sure the DHBs take note of our action. The progress we made would not have happened without it.

It’s also interesting to note that the further through bargaining we have gone the more conversations have opened up about the bigger picture.

Government funding of DHBs affects what services can be provided, and the wellbeing of both staff and patients.

In essence, NZNO and DHBs want the same thing: to protect our precious health services and create sustainable work environments that are safe for everyone.

NZNO members are a very powerful resource in the fight against health sector cuts. DHBs might just be starting to see that they are stronger standing together with us too. This is what the power of our solidarity can achieve.

We are looking forward to hearing more news from the DHBs next week and gathering together again in huge numbers- hopefully at ratification meetings!