NZ aged care nurses campaign for pay parity
Nearly 14,000 New Zealanders have signed a petition calling for an end to the pay disparity between the country’s registered nurses who work in aged care and their counterparts in public hospitals.
“Registered nurses who work in aged care in New Zealand earn on average at least $10,000 a year less than nurses who work in public hospitals,” says the petition to Dr David Clark, New Zealand’s Minister of Health.
“That’s not because they are any less skilled or important, but because of years of underfunding of rest homes by successive governments and undervaluing of the care of older people.”
There are more than 5000 aged care registered nurses in New Zealand.
The push for better pay comes as the skill and leadership of the country’s aged care nurses have been credited as an important reason for New Zealand’s low fatality rate from COVID-19.
Only 21 people have died from COVID-19 in New Zealand. Most of the deaths were concentrated in two aged care facilities. The overwhelming majority of homes had no casualties.
Experts say that staffing issues were an important factor in the facilities that experienced outbreaks and low staffing levels must be an important part of any review into coronavirus outbreaks in New Zealand rest homes.
“Quality care requires more staff and more time. Higher staffing ratios will also provide more room for flexibility when crises occur,” said Dr Katherine Ravenswood, from Auckland University of Technology.