Sunday, June 23, 2024

Historic pay equity offer made to nurses

The Government has announced an additional $1.5 billion as part of an interim pay equity settlement that, if accepted, will see nurses employed by Te Whatu Ora receive additional increases to pay rates and a lump sum payment to address back pay issues.

Minister of Health, Ayesha Verrall said more than 30,000 nurses employed by Te Whatu Ora will soon vote on a pay equity rate and backpay offer following an agreement on the proposed terms of a settlement that have been reached between Te Whatu Ora, New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO), and the Public Service Association (PSA).

“I’m so pleased the NZNO and PSA leadership have reached this historic agreement with Te Whatu Ora to ensure the predominantly female nursing workforce finally receives the pay they deserve,” Dr Verrall said.

If agreed, the payment will mean nurses receive two pay rises in nine months – the first being the interim 14% interim pay equity adjustments paid in April this year.

“This deal brings the total value of the pay equity settlement to $4 billion,” the Minister said.

“When you add together the pay equity increases and collective bargaining increases since we became Government in 2017 a new graduate nurses starting salary has gone up by 40.7% and the salary for registered  nurses at the top of their scale has risen by 49.2%.

“I want to recognise the challenge to get to this point. The past few years have seen nurses and our whole health workforce come under enormous pressure due to COVID.”

In December 2022, the Employment Relations Authority approved Te Whatu Ora’s application to pay around 30,000 registered nurses, enrolled nurses and health assistants interim pay equity payments.

The offer follows yesterday’s announcement of a boost to New Zealand’s future nursing workforce with the addition of 830 clinical placements for nursing students.

Minister Verrall said the Government was committed to training more nurses to help address sector shortages.

“In this year’s July and August intake we’re making it possible for 130 additional students to commence their nursing studies nationwide. All of these students are currently on a waiting list and would otherwise have been deferred to 2024,” said Dr Verrall.

“In addition to the next semester’s 130 placements, for the 2024 intake Te Whatu Ora is working with nurse education providers to support an additional 700 clinical placements nationwide.

“This means that from 2024 we are supporting a significant increase in the number of nurses we train domestically, currently around 7400, boosting the growth of our future nursing workforce by an estimated 10%.”

Minister Verrall said the initiative responds to the New Zealand Nurses Organisation’s Maranga Mai campaign, which calls for more people training to be nurses.

“An increase in 830 clinical placement opportunities means hundreds more home-grown nurses can gain their registration to work in New Zealand.”

“Clinical placements are a requirement of the Nursing Council of New Zealand and an integral part of their nursing practice education. Boosting our workforce with more nurses in our hospitals, health centres, aged residential care facilities and communities means more care for everyone.

“This boost to nurse training places is a significant investment and an important step towards creating more opportunities for New Zealanders to become a nurse,” she said.

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