News Briefs

1 December 2012

HWNZ ‘trivialising’ nursing concerns /Poaching’ of ENs to Oz could grow /Nursing Council ‘effective’ but needs greater transparency /Three-way contest now for NZNO presidency / Appointments

Health Workforce New Zealand’s initial response to the nursing sector’s lack of confidence call was trivialising serious concerns, says NZNO professional services manager Susanne Trim.

Leaders of the New Zealand Nurses Organisation, College of Nurses Aotearoa, and College of Midwives in late November sent an open letter to HWNZ expressing “significant concern” at HWNZ’s performance and the need to restore sector confidence in its core workforce planning role (see Nursing Review online NewsFeed story November 30).

In a statement, HWNZ director Brenda Wraight said she was disappointed to read of the concerns and recognised there were “significant changes under way in the sector which can cause unease”.

“I think she’s trivialising the lack of planning that HWNZ has done around the nursing and midwifery workforce and trying to sideline us as uneasy and upset,” said Trim.

“Actually, we’re a bit more than upset – we don’t take the move of writing an open letter lightly. We’ve got serious concerns and HWNZ needs to take these seriously.”

Jenny Carryer, executive director of the College of Nurses, said Wraight’s response was “outrageous” and did not recognise the enormous efforts made by nursing to deliver on its full potential.

Trim said the three nursing organisations believed there were serious concerns about the long-term impact of the ageing workforce and the over-reliance on overseas-trained nurses that needed to be addressed by HWNZ.

“With 50 per cent of the nurses joining the register each year being overseas-trained, it’s quite high risk if things change internationally and that market dries up,” Trim said.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Tony Ryall’s office responded to the letter’s comment about HWNZ chair Des Gorman having a “direct line” to Ryall by saying the Minister appointed the chair and so kept in regular touch with him. The Minister declined to comment further on concerns raised in the open letter and directed all inquiries to HWNZ.

Nursing Review has requested an interview with HWNZ executive chair Professor Des Gorman to discuss the concerns raised and a range of nursing workforce issues.  

Poaching’ of ENs to Oz could grow

New Zealand needs a better workforce plan for its enrolled nurses with Australia predicting a 30,000 shortfall in ENs by 2025, says EN leader Robyn Hewlett.

Hewlett, chair of NZNO’s enrolled nurse section, has expressed frustration at the lack of workforce planning to back the ‘return’ of the enrolled nurse. A survey in October found only 56 per cent of the July graduating cohort of ENs were in nursing work, with the majority in residential aged care and very few employed by district health boards. At least six of the 130 graduating ENs had crossed the Tasman to find jobs.

She said she was aware of ENs being ‘poached’ from New Zealand, including employers ringing up polytechnic nursing schools seeking new graduates.

Hewlett hoped that the ENs would return to New Zealand with their knowledge and skills. But such poaching was only likely to grow with a Health Workforce Australia report predicting the supply of enrolled nurses to start falling from 2013, leading to a shortfall in 2025 of about 30,000 ENs to meet projected demand.

The report said that to meet that projected demand Australia would need to start near doubling the number of students enrolled in enrolled nurse programmes, with the aim of having nearly 6000 graduates a year from 2016 onwards.

Meanwhile, Hewlett has been part of a working party developing an EN fact sheet to help encourage the employment of ENs in acute care settings. The EN section has also drawn up its own workforce paper with 19 recommendations.

Nursing Council ‘effective’ but needs greater transparency

The Nursing Council is an effective regulator with strong leadership and a commitment to improvement, an external review found.

The review, carried out for the Council by the British Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence (CHRE) that reviews the UK’s nine health professional regulatory authorities, generally gave the Council a thumbs-up.

But it also made a number of recommendations for suggested improvements, including changes in the process of selecting and appointing council members and greater transparency.

“The NCNZ is doing a good job but it seems to be doing it mostly in private,” the review says. “One of its roles is to maintain public confidence in regulation. It cannot do this if the public does not know what it is doing.”

It recommended that Council papers, agendas, and minutes should be published so the public and registrants can have confidence in the Council’s work, and that the Council’s role and decisions be better communicated to patients and the public.

The review said the Council was protecting the public through its conduct, competence and health processes and overall reviewers found “sound decision making”.

Nursing Council Chief Executive and Registrar Carolyn Reed said the review was both pleasing and useful. “The review of our functions was extremely thorough and provided us with a critical external perspective. It is always helpful to see one’s performance through the eyes of others and we particularly value the patient/public focus of the review.”

The full review report and the Council’s action plan for responding to the recommendations can be found on the Council’s website:

Three-way contest now for NZNO presidency

Successful appeals have resulted in the current and ex-presidents’ bids to lead the New Zealand Nurses Organisation being resurrected.

Nursing Review reported online in September that current president Nano Tunnicliff and immediate past-president Marion Guy had their nominations declined for failing to meet all the new constitution’s criteria for the soon to be full-time paid position.

NZNO has now reported that the two candidate’s appeals were successful and they have joined former NZNO board of directors’ member Lynn Latta in contesting for the presidency.

Voting by members closes in mid-January and the new president is expected to be announced in early February.


• Hawke’s Bay renal nurse practitioner Rachael Walker was joint runner-up in the recent Health Informatics’ Clinicians Challenge for her proposal on streamlining chronic kidney disease referrals. She wins up to $5000 towards professional development. The top prize went to Opotiki GP Jo Scott-Jones and Rural General Practice Network chair for his proposal on improving standing order processes.

• Capital & Coast District Health Board director of nursing for the past three years Kerrie Hayes is now director of nursing for Calvary Health Care in Canberra. Andrea McCance is currently acting director of nursing and midwifery.