NZNO's Blog

Maranga Mai! – Health and Safety

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Anne Daniels, President
NZNO, Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa

Is every nurse, everywhere sufficiently resourced to safely do their job?

What can we make of the Minister of Health saying the hospitals are coping when a raft of professionals within the health sector are saying exactly the opposite? Let’s unpack the statement: Hospitals are coping……

Health care is delivered by nurses everywhere in New Zealand, not just in hospitals. Are Primary Care, Aged Care, Māori and Pasifika nurses coping? I don’t think so. In many cases they are even less resourced. They are at the front-line providing prevention, health education, and wrap around services that include whānau and iwi, but this appears invisible in the Minister’s statement. If it was not for them, the pressures on hospitals would be so much greater.

But the situation is so dire that doctors themselves have written to the Minister demanding that change happen for nurses so they (the doctors) can do their work.

And Aged Care is definitely not coping. Facilities are closing due to nursing shortages, making for unsafe work environments. At a recent Select Committee hearing, NZNO College of Gerontology Nursing Chair Natalie Seymour clearly outlined the major challenges Aged Care nurses and facility managers are facing. The toll being taken on those who provide the care, nurses and health care assistants, in the current nursing shortage context, is beyond belief. Yet our members keep going to work, keep caring, and keep voicing their concerns about unsafe work environments ever more loudly.

Maranga Mai! – The Health and Safety umbrella.

Health and Safety is a main area of focus within our Maranga Mai! campaign. Under this umbrella we are organising opportunities to build member power to hold our employers and their masters to account.

NZNO now has a Health and Safety Representative (HSR) WhatsApp group run by NZNO educator John Howell. This is bringing HSRs together to build understanding and support to engage all members to actively participate in resolving nursing shortage issues. We are building infrastructure, capacity and action by and with our NZNO HSRs, delegates and members.

Those NZNO HSRs and delegates – in combination with members – are a power to be reckoned with, particularly when the HSRs utilise the Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA) 2015. The HWSA’s main principle is that workers are given the highest level of protection from workplace health and safety risks as possible.

All NZNO members are expected to participate and, as a result, increasing numbers of Provisional Improvement Notices (PINs) are being submitted by NZNO HSRs in regions such as Palmerston North, Auckland, Hawke’s Bay, Southern, Wellington, and I believe more will come.

A PIN is written notice legally requiring an employer or service provider to address a health and safety issue before a certain time.

Nurses are rising up to make sure that every nurse, no matter where they work in the health sector, has the power and resources to safely do their job. Maranga Mai!

This is just the beginning.

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