12 May is International Nurses Day and New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) Chief Executive Memo Musa says it’s an appropriate time to remember that nurses are part of our lives – for all our lives.
“Nurses are there for us from the day we are born to the day we die, and on many occasions in between. They provide expert but compassionate care, often under trying circumstances. They are trained, knowledgeable and skilled, and they positively affect the health and wellbeing of us all.”
Mr Musa, himself a registered nurse, encouraged New Zealanders to reach out to a nurse they know or encounter on Sunday, and to personally thank them.
The theme for International Nurses Day 2019 is “Nurses, a voice to lead: health for all,” and Mr Musa said this was an appropriate theme around the world, but also here at home.
“Despite the fact that more people are living healthier lives, too many in New Zealand are still suffering needlessly from preventable diseases, often due to poverty and other inequities. Nurses are going to be central to anything we do about that problem.”
He said it’s essential that New Zealand continues its efforts to develop a sufficiently qualified workforce that is sustainable.
“There’s a worldwide shortage of nurses, so we need to be training and employing sufficient nurses here, and relying less on nurses from other countries where they’re needed just as much.
“We need to address the nursing shortage by attracting more people to the profession. That means paying nurses in a way that reflects the skills and training required. It means making sure there are adequate staffing levels so nurses are safe and not overworked. It means that every person who trains as a nurse in New Zealand should be welcomed into a job when they graduate.”
Mr Musa said the vision for a strong nursing workforce is a key pillar of NZNO’s Strategic Plan and that he was pleased some progress was being made toward that vision.
“Last year’s DHB MECA settlement did result in better pay for nurses employed by DHBs, but we’d like to see it extended to all nurses and think it’s only a start towards the pay levels all nurses deserve.
“We’re also pleased with the commitment by the Ministry of Health and DHBs towards safer staffing and pay equity, but there is still much work to be done.”
However, Mr Musa said International Nurses Day was a time to focus on the positive and celebrate nurses here and around the world.
“Few of us would enjoy the health we have if it wasn’t for these dedicated, hard-working and truly remarkable nurses and nursing staff.”