A new graduate and an enrolled nurse are the dedicated pair behind a social media forum allowing Kiwi nurses to share their stories anonymously – that’s reached 13,000 members in just five days.
‘Nurse Florence’ – as the two administrators of the snowballing New Zealand, please hear our voice Facebook page are collectively known – told Nursing Review that they had launched the page on Saturday night (March 4) because they believed nurses needed a voice to help engage the public during the current pay claim campaign. “We were seeing on other sites, media coverage and comments how poorly New Zealand felt about us.”
Around 27,000 nurses, midwives and healthcare assistant members of the New Zealand Nurses Organisation start voting this week over whether to accept a revised pay offer from the 20 DHBs, knowing the likely next step if they reject the deal is a strike ballot. A single nurse post about the pay offer went viral last week and the Nurse Florence-run Facebook page – which the pair says is not to encourage a strike but to allow nurses to be heard – has similarly grown swiftly this week.
The pair say they were strangers from opposite ends of the country who saw the success that midwives had had in engaging public backing and the media and wanted the same opportunity for nurses. They wanted nurses stories to be heard anonymously as said nurses felt silenced in their jobs as they needed to respect the privacy of their patients.
“We wanted to create a forum that would give people an insight into what a nurse is and what our job entails, especially in light of the negative comments in the media about nurses being undeserving of a pay rise and that we should be grateful for the current offer.”
They said they had been overwhelmed by the support, which hit 2000 members the morning after the Saturday night launch, 6000 by Tuesday and – despite ‘Nurse Florence’ being disabled as the administrator by Facebook temporarily on Wednesday – had reached more than 13,000 members by Thursday afternoon.
The pair posted on Thursday that the page had been taken down on Wednesday by Facebook because of the difficulties in keeping their identities anonymous – and it had taken a stressful day to get it back up and running to allow nurses to continue to share their anonymous messages.
“We are both juggling shift work, difficult hours and home lives but we will reply to every message that we receive. We look forward to having more contact from New Zealand nurses and the public.”
Nurse North told Nursing Review that she only had been nursing for a month after graduating as a registered nurse (RN) last year and being fortunate enough to be accepted for a NETP (nurse entry to practice) programme. “I love my job as a nurse and hope that I will have a long happy career in the nursing industry.”
Nurse South said she was an enrolled nurse working in a psychiatric acute in-patient ward and while not as experienced as some of the nurses sharing their stories via ‘Nurse Florence’ she had a passion for the job she was trying to do.
She said she used to think she would eventually train as an RN and felt valued by her RN colleagues who had encouraged her by saying she had the skills to make a good RN. But now she was finding RNs unhappy with their jobs, with “hurt in their eyes” and feeling scared to come out on the wards due to the level of violence and abuse.
“I don’t feel as confident as I was because we are being placed in situations that are dangerous and it feels like we are ‘expected’ to manage this ourselves,” said Nurse South. “I love my job but I would love it more if we had the opportunity for change we deserve. With change I can do a job I love.”
The pair said the page and ‘Nurse Florence’ were not there to tell NZNO’s DHB members what choices to make. “We are not here to convince anyone to make the same vote as we are. We are a forum trying to be heard so we can have change.”
“We are encouraging as many people from the public, family and friends to speak up and share with us what they are feeling and to hear their experiences. As it seems we have lost sight of our purpose as a nurse. We want the public to help us create movement towards change.”
You can visit the New Zealand, please hear our voice Facebook page here.