NZNO's Blog

Our health system needs a shake-up

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Kerri Nuku, Kaewhakahaere
Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa NZNO

The health system is not meeting the needs of New Zealanders, especially Māori, and it’s also NOT meeting the needs of those who work within it. So what is the Government going to do to ensure the right resource goes to the frontline and not into endless restructures?

The response from the Prime Minister to this question was both respectful and insightful with an understanding of pressures across the system, but not a guarantee of resources to the frontline.

The extraordinary challenges across health both nationally and internationally have been unprecedented. The impact of Covid was always going to take years to recover from, but wave upon wave of challenges have continued to erode the energy and passion of the entire health workforce. Nurses voluntarily offered to be deployed to different regions to help spread the load in crisis areas during the latest flood events from Cyclone Gabrielle, but these short-term solutions are not going to be effective in the long-term.

Latest information from an Australian recruiting agency suggests that more than 5000 New Zealand nurses have registered with the Australian regulatory body and are contemplating working across the ditch. Even if half of this number were to leave, with the huge vacancies and reports of staff shortages on each shift, this would have a devastating impact on the health workforce left behind.

This week Rob Campbell, the former chairman of the Te Whatu Ora Board, has come out and supported the opportunity for change through the health reforms. We at NZNO were all hoping this was an opportunity to be brave and bold and develop models of care with the patient at the centre of the care and a responsive and well-resourced workforce. Like many I was sceptical about a reshuffling of the senior executive deck chairs, moving from being DHB executives on the 30 June to Te Whatu Ora on 1 July. Were we going to be able to see transformation rethink bold enough to change deeply entrenched practices?

Campbell also said that workers of the “frontline” need to be part of workforce planning, and we have echoed the same thing for years. You cannot develop a workforce plan without frontline workers, not just doctors or nurses but also kaimahi, health care assistance and allied health.

The National Day of Action is important to expose the health system that is broken and not fit for purpose. We will continue to bleed staff if we don’t protect and support staff with the resources they need to do their job. This is an action for all nurses everywhere to come together and send a message of solidarity. We need to be advocates for our communities who deserve to have a quality health care system that is free from discrimination, and is affordable, accessible, and culturally safe health care.

Naku te rourou nau te rourou ka ora ai te iwi (With your basket and my basket the people will live)

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