Hospital senior doctors back nursing colleagues

The senior doctors’ union says it is time for health bosses to stop point-scoring and reach an agreement with nurses to stop national strike action.

Nearly 30,000 nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants will walk off the job for 24 hours on July 5 unless last-ditch efforts by DHBs and the New Zealand Nurses Organisation to make a deal are successful.

Ian Powell, Executive Director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS), said senior doctors were saddened that their hospital nursing colleagues had been put in a position where last-resort strike action was considered necessary.

“Nurses are a skilled, dedicated workforce and the fact things have deteriorated to this point reflects a crisis of leadership in our public health system.” He said eight years of “deliberate Government under-funding” had taken its toll, resulting in the devaluing of nursing both by the Government and the district health boards.

Nurses were a vital part of the public health system and “don’t deserve to be treated as a balance sheet liability”, said Powell.

Powell attributes the current situation to poor leadership, made worse by recent “foolish point-scoring by the DHBs’ national representatives”.

“They tried to use the media to pressure nurses into accepting their offer by suggesting that the pay packet for a few nurses in extreme working circumstances would be typical of a much wider group. Nurses saw through this ruse, were angered, and have responded accordingly.”

He said the fact that nurses hadn’t been on a national strike like this for more than 30 years must tell DHB bosses something about nurses’ measured approach to negotiations.

“Urgent mediation is an opportunity for the DHB negotiators to resolve the issues.”

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