How do the political parties health policies stack up against the issues that matter to nurses? Nursing Review takes a look.

Nurses are the largest health professional group in a sector that takes a lion’s share of government funding.

Nurses deliver health care to young and old, rich and poor and the healthy to the dying, which gives them a unique insight into the state of our health system. Nurses have political views as diverse as any other section of the public, but share a common interest in wanting to do the best for their patients and clients.

This election the New Zealand Nurses Organisation’s election manifesto has also been supported and endorsed by the College of Nurses Aotearoa New Zealand.

The Nursing Matters manifesto sets out seven priorities for nursing and public health. Nursing Review gives a brief summary of how the released election policies to date of the five main political parties stack up against those seven priorities, plus mental health.

(See links to full health policies of the eight political parties in the running at bottom of article. The parties in that list and below are in alphabetical order.)

Nursing Matters Priorities

  1. A SUSTAINABLE, FULLY UTILISED NURSING WORKFORCE (N.B. We have included specific references to nursing in parties’ online policies here)

GREENS: Have a school nurse in every low decile school. Visits to nurses or doctors free for under-18s. Improve palliative care training for medical, nursing and allied health staff in hospitals, hospices and aged care facilities.

LABOUR: Extend nurse-led school-based health service. Fund an additional 100 Plunket and Tamariki Ora nurses.

NATIONAL: Introduce registered nurse prescribing. Nursing and doctor numbers employed in DHBs have increased by 6,900 in past nine years.


GREENS: Match increasing need for health services with increased funding.

LABOUR: An additional $8 billion investment in health over four years to meet inflation and demographic pressures and address current funding shortfalls.

MĀORI: Establish a new Māori and Pacific social investment fund managed by the Māori Pasifika Health Commissioning Unit.

NATIONAL: Health top funding priority, with Vote Health budget increased by $888 million for 2017-2018 to $16.8 billion. Increase number of elective surgeries to 200,000 a year by 2021. Social investment package.

NEW ZEALAND FIRST: Establish public health compact stipulating guaranteed minimum services. Adequately resource elective surgery and establish guaranteed maximum waiting times for surgical/specialist treatment.



GREENS: Review funding formula for primary care, specifically looking at high needs populations. Visits to nurses or doctors free for under-18s.

LABOUR: Cut GP fees by $10 a visit with $8 GP visits for community service cardholders. Review funding of primary care system. Review current funding model for residential aged care and update national baseline aged care standards.

MĀORI: Free annual and medical and dental visit for over-55s. Free GP visits and dental care for under-18s. Increase kaupapa Māori services. Increase mobile health clinics in rural communities. Explore the rollout of IMOKO nationwide. More Whānau Ora navigators.

NATIONAL: Cap the cost of GP visits to $18 for people with community services cards (estimated up to 600,000 extra New Zealanders could be eligible). Support family health hubs. Introduced Health Families NZ policy and combined phone helplines.

NEW ZEALAND FIRST: Review funding of primary health organisations. Introduce three annual GP visits for over-65s (SuperGold card). Fully fund palliative care services.



GREENS: Visits to nurses or doctors free for under-18s. Have a school nurse in every low decile school (see also mental health). Every baby gets baby pod at birth. Ensure only healthy food and drink sold at schools.

LABOUR: Extend nurse-led school-based health services to all public secondary schools. Extend paid parental leave from 18 weeks to 26 weeks. Support healthy eating and nutrition for children. Set child obesity reduction target and rollout Waikato’s Project Energize programme. Review Youth One Stop Shop funding (see also social and health equity priority).

MĀORI: Free GP visits and dental care for under-18s. Introduce mental health counsellors in all high schools. Subsidise power bills for those with rheumatic fever.

NATIONAL: New target of keeping children out of hospital for preventable conditions. Free GP visits and prescriptions for under-13s. Parents and newborns package including extending paid parental leave to 22 weeks. Ongoing policies include childhood obesity plan, Fruit in Schools and meeting B4 School Check and immunisation targets (see also social and health equity priority).

NEW ZEALAND FIRST: Nationwide health screening of all children under one-year (see also mental health). Support increasing paid maternity leave to 26 weeks and paid paternal leave of two weeks rising to four weeks.

  1. SAFE CLINICAL ENVIRONMENTS (see also investment in public health priority)

GREENS: Implement solutions to health workforce problems that have been jointly developed by health professionals.

LABOUR: Commit to building new hospital for Dunedin.

MĀORI: Increase in kaupapa Māori service.

NATIONAL: Invest in new hospitals in Christchurch, Greymouth, Dunedin. DHBs employing 6,900 more doctors and nurses than nine years ago. Establish a School of Rural Medicine. 

NEW ZEALAND FIRST: Review number of district health boards (DHBs) and establish a ratio of practitioners to administrators.


GREENS: Amend pay equity laws. Require all workplaces to measure and disclose pay gap between genders (see Labour below).

LABOUR: Pledged to scrap Pay Equity legislation currently in parliament. Make mental health workers a priority in pay equity negotiations. Labour and Greens Inquiry into Aged Care report notes pay equity settlement has created issues and funding concerns for sector, including loss of pay relativity for registered nurses.

MĀORI: No specific pay equity policy online. Introduce living wage for all workers.

NATIONAL: Introduced $2 billion pay equity settlement for 55,000 residential aged care and care workers. Legislation for pay equity framework currently before parliament.

NEW ZEALAND FIRST: Provide equality of funding for all family home carers. Review aged care sector funding – particularly rest home funding after pay equity.



GREENS: Link benefits to fixed percentage of average wage, introduce universal child benefit (that can be capitalised for first home), tax free zone for first $10,000, look at benefit abatement for beneficiaries working part-time. Increase state housing units, expand social housing, more secure tenancy conditions and increase low-interest housing finance for low-income households.

LABOUR: Lift 100,000 children out of poverty by 2020. Legislate a child poverty reduction target. Implement a families package including Best Start scheme payments for children up to age of three for low and middle-income earners, continue with accommodation supplement increases and boost access to Working for Family payments. Increase minimum wage to $16.50 an hour and promote Living Wage. Stop sale of state houses and build more. Pass Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill to ensure rental properties warm and dry. Build 100,000 more affordable houses over 10 years. Implement rental reforms. Change Public Finance Act so Budget reports on reducing child poverty

MĀORI: Cost of living adjustment to all benefits. Introduce living wage. Housing policy includes developing National Housing Strategy, improve renters rights, enforce compulsory rental home warrant of fitness, provide low interest housing loans and introduce options for ‘rent to buy’.

NATIONAL: Family Incomes package from next year will shift tax thresholds for low income families, lifting Family Tax Credit up to age 18 and increasing accommodation supplement rates next year. PM Bill English says this will lift 50,000 children out of poverty and he pledges to bring another 50,000 children out of poverty by 2020 if re-elected. Increase social housing available from 66,400 to $72,000 over three years. Announced plan to build 34,000 new houses in Auckland in next 10 years. Budget had $20 million over four years for more emergency and transitional housing, expansion of Housing First programme for homeless and extending Warm and Dry upgrades of social housing. Would double HomeStart grants for first homebuyers.

NEW ZEALAND FIRST: Raise minimum wage to $20 an hour over next three years. Greater scrutiny of the benefit system, adjustment benefits and abatement levels. Remove secondary tax. Introduce flexible state support for grandparents raising grandchildren.



GREENS: Free counselling for all New Zealanders under 25 and increase youth mental health funding by $100 million a year. Support an independent inquiry into mental health

LABOUR: Initiate review of mental health and addiction services in first 100 days to identify gaps in services. Two-year pilot of basing primary mental health teams at eight primary health centre sites in high needs areas to offer early intervention and continuing care. Teams led by ‘doctors or other medical professionals’.

MĀORI: Expand Rangatahi Suicide Prevention Strategy. Increase kaupapa Māori mental health and addiction services. Support an independent inquiry into mental health. Reduce tobacco supply and subsidise e-cigarettes. Eliminate synthetic cannabis. Increase respite care beds for P-addicts.

NATIONAL: Increased funding announced in Budget including $100 million over four years for 17 social investment initiatives and pilots. Mental health funding services increased from $1.1 billion to $1.4 billion. Moving to emphasis on mental wellness, resilience and new ways of accessing services.

NEW ZEALAND FIRST: Re-establish Mental Health Commission. Commit to a suicide reduction target. Support an independent inquiry into mental health. Increase mental health service options and beds especially around child and youth mental health services.







New Zealand First:        

The Opportunities Party:

United Future                





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