Nurses have walked off the job across the country this morning, as a 24-hour strike gets underway.

Last minute negotiations failed to stop the action, after New Zealand Nurses’ Organisation members rejected a fourth pay offer on Tuesday.

Demonstrations are being held across the country until the strike ends at 7am tomorrow.

It has been estimated 6000 to 8000 procedures could be disrupted by the action.

On the picket line, an Auckland nurse said she was striking for both patients and herself.

“The work that we do for others needs to be valued.”

She said she was not striking purely for better pay.

“We need more staff. It’s about patient safety. The offer equated to about one new nurse per ward, we need far more than that.”

The nurse, who will be taking part in a march in Auckland later today, said it was hard to walk away from patients this morning.

“Absolutely it was. Not only the patients but their families. Most do support us though because they can see the work we do.

“This action now will make a difference for everyone in the future.”

A Northland nurse taking part in demonstrations said she was standing in solidarity with nurses to get better care for patients.

“It’s the last straw to show New Zealand that we have had enough of being undervalued and under staffed.”

The nurses’ strike has also received support from SEQURE Health, a company that can ‘in-source’ specialist medical staff, including nurses.

Managing director Vinod Govind said he supported the nurses’ bravery to “stick to their guns” and reject the District Health Boards’ offer.

“They are our most valuable resources, they are a crucial cog in our public health system, ensuring continuity of quality standard care in our country.”

However, he said he was also conscious of DHBs’ current financial positions.

“If they could do more, I’m sure they would do more. We can’t just correct nine years of underfunding in one budget.”

Meanwhile, the Employment Relations Authority, which ordered the union and DHBs to facilitation, last night handed over its recommendations on how to settle the rift.

DHB spokesperson Helen Mason said she was pleased to receive the document which DHBs will now consider carefully before deciding next steps.

“The recommendation is the considered opinion of a third party expert who understands the issues, has looked at all the information and has recommended a solution – most importantly the ERA facilitator is independent.”

She said it was disappointing the strike had gone ahead, before the final recommendation was made.

“We’ll carefully consider the ERA’s recommendation before deciding how to approach reaching a settlement.”

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