Two nurses who campaigned on the professional challenges faced by nurses have been elected and appointed to the Nursing Council.

The appointment of new members – Maria Armstrong and Joanna Hart – has just been confirmed by the Minister of Health after the results of last year’s Nursing Council election were delayed by the change of Government. The Minister has also re-appointed current chair Catherine Byrne to the Council.

The two new members were amongst 16 nurses who put themselves forward for the three elected health practitioner positions on the nine member council – including sitting council members Catherine Byrne, Jo Ann Walton (who was deputy chair at the time) and Joanne Hopson.  Walton later withdrew from the election process and from her place on the council as she is now a council employee having taken up the post of Director, Registrant Quality.

Joanna (Jo) Hart, a Bay of Plenty registered nurse with 20 years’ experience, stood for the Council on the platform of the Council not only protecting the public but also protecting nurses from the “overwhelming expectations” for further study. “I’ve seen my colleagues despair at overwhelming expectations to further their education, along with annual increases in PDRP (professional development and recognition programme) requirements and I’ve experienced them too,” she wrote in her election candidate’s bio.

The second new Council member is Maria Armstrong, who is a charge nurse at the Auckland District Health Board and a director on the board of the New Zealand Nurses Organisation.

Armstrong, who has a clinical masters degree in nursing, also talked in her candidate bio about balancing the public good with the challenges facing nursing as a profession from changing practice roles and expectations in a changing healthcare environment.

“These changes are increasing both the professional and the personal demands of nurses,” said Armstrong in her bio. “I have a good understanding of the challenges we face moving forward and will promote measures to facilitate achievement of the inter-linked objectives of optimal nursing care for the public good and the lived experience of nursing for members of the profession.”

The Nursing Council in a statement said they sincerely thanked the outgoing members of Council for their dedicated service to the Council and the nursing profession.  The council has appointed To’a Fereti as the new deputy chair.

Just over 10 per cent of eligible nurses voted in the 2017 election – the same turnout as the elections held in 2011 and 2014.  The online Council election closed on September 1 and were then caught up with the government elections and change of government as the Nursing Council was unable to announce the elected council members until the Minister of Health had approved the nominated candidates and the nominations had gone through the government’s Appointments Committee.


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