The Government has committed to expanding the nurses-in-schools programme to a further 5600 students by commencing the rollout to decile five secondary schools at a cost of $19.6 million over four years.

The existing programme, which covers decile 1-4 secondary schools, will also receive extra funding to enhance current services.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says evidence shows that when students have more time with on-site professionals there is significantly less depression and suicide risk.

“Early intervention works. We want to provide our young people with support and early intervention as they learn to cope with the pressures that come with becoming a young adult.”

The Budget also allocated $10 million to the creation of a nurse-family partnership programme at an initial three sites. This programme will provide enhanced support to parents and whānau who have mental health or addiction needs during pregnancy and for the first two years of a child’s life or following a stillbirth.

The Government says supporting parents through this programme will also play an important part in keeping at-risk children safe.

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) commends the Government for a good start towards a Wellbeing Budget for New Zealanders.

In particular it commends the significant increase in Vote Health, and meaningful allocations in key areas such as mental health and addiction, child wellbeing, family violence, and Māori and Pasifika wellbeing.

However, NZNO Kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku says there is still more to be done.

“Nurses and nursing services will be key to each and every one of these extended services, but we agree with the Government’s observation that currently the required workforce needed for them is not in place.”

The Government allocated $212 million to health workforce training in yesterday’s Budget, including $14.3 million over four years for a strengthened Pacific training pathway.

NZNO President Grant Brookes is pleased to see the Government identifying specific workforce targets, such as the primary mental health services workforce and pathways to employment for Māori and Pasifika healthcare workers.

“We are particularly pleased that the importance of supporting students to enter into nursing and midwifery practice has been recognised.”

However, Nuku says the glaring disparity in earnings between the DHB nursing workforce and those working in Māori and Pasifika, Aged Care and Community services should have been more clearly identified as a target in the Budget.

“NZNO looks forward to continuing to work with Government to develop the required nursing workforce and helping to ensure that working conditions and remuneration levels continue to improve so nursing remains an attractive option for young people seeking a professional career in health,” she says.

“Investing in the wellbeing of the workforce remains a priority.”

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