All 20 DHBs plans for spending their share of a $38m staffing relief have now been approved. And an option for boosting employment of all new graduate nurses is being progressed, reports the Ministry.

In late November the Ministry of Health’s Chief Nursing Office had only approved 15 of the 20 plans required to explain‘why, where, who and how’ workforce capacity would be increased at their DHB for immediate short-term relief of nursing and midwifery workload issues. To receive their share of the fund – set up under the DHB NZNO MECA agreement reached in August – the DHB plans had to be first signed off by each DHB’s joint union-DHB CCDM Council, or equivalent, and then approved by the joint DHB-NZNO Safe Staffing Healthy Workplace (SSHW) governance group.

Jane Bodkin, acting Chief Nursing Officer, said some DHBs had started formal recruitment processes. Numbers actually employed are not yet known, but the 20 approved DHB plans would translate to approximately 497.87 extra nurses being employed.

Accord update

Meanwhile on November 29 the three signatories to the Safe Staffing Accord – the Ministry, 20 DHBs and NZN0 – met with the Health Minister to discuss a paper outlining the options for employing and training all Kiwi nursing graduates.

A Ministry briefing update said the options paper was ‘well received’ by the Minister and all parties would continue to work together on progressing the most preferred option – but it did not say which option was favoured.

It did say that the options identified included “employment for all new graduate nurses, providing employment within eight months; and implementing a new programme to assist enrolled nurses into practice. “The paper also signalled further work with the sector in 2019 to develop a more integrated approach to new graduate nurse placement,” said the Ministry update.    It added that the options paper included feedback from surveys of DHB nursing directors, Nurse Executives of NZ, nurse educators and new graduates.

Work has now also started on the second commitment of the Safe Staffing Accord –how to monitor DHBs’ implementing the additional staffing needs identified by the safe staffing Care Capacity Demand Management (CCDM) system.

The Accord commits the three parties to:

  • explore options for providing employment and training for all New Zealand nursing and midwifery graduates and report to the Minister of Health by the end of November 2018
  • develop any accountability mechanisms that the Parties believe are necessary (over and above those already agreed) to ensure DHBs implement the additional staffing needs identified by CCDM within the agreed timeframe (June 2021) and report to the Minister of Health by the end of February 2019
  • develop a strategy for the retention of the existing nursing and midwifery workforce and the re-employment of those who have left the workforce, and report to the Minister of Health by the end of May 2019.


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