Successive governments have enabled a growing pay disparity between nurses who care for people in public hospitals and those who care for people in aged care facilities.
This situation was compounded in 2018 when nurses working in the country’s DHBs negotiated a pay rise that resulted in a pay gap between hospital nurses and aged care nurses.
All of a sudden, DHB’s were able to deal with their nursing shortages by attracting nurses from aged care with higher pay. This left our sector struggling to attract and retain the staff required to provide care for older New Zealanders.
The NZ Aged Care Association immediately swung into action, successfully lobbying to change immigration policy resulting in May 2019 in aged care nurses being put on the Long Term Skills Shortage List.
In June 2020 we launched an online Fair Pay for Aged Care Nurses petition and achieved over 15,000 signatures in just one month.
And then we ran full-page ads in the weekend editions of the NZ Herald, the Dominion Post, The Press and the Otago Daily Times.
Plus plenty of online ads.
To highlight the issue across all four major political parties and celebrate achieving the 15,000 signature milestone on our petition a colourful event was organised to present the petition at Parliament just prior to the 2020 General Election. Copies of the petition were presented to:
- Tracey Martin – NZ First Party (Minister for Seniors)
- Louisa Wall – Labour (Member for Manurewa, Chair of the Health Select Committee)
- Tim McIndoe – National Party (Spokesperson for Seniors)
- Jan Logie – Green Party (Spokesperson for Health)
To create colour and meaning, a group of aged care nurses wearing PPE with Support Fair Pay printed on them joined the event at Parliament. As a symbolic gesture, they removed the PPE which were presented, along with copies of the petition, to the politicians by Simon Wallace and NZACA Nursing Leadership Group Chair Dr Frances Hughes.
All four politicians pledged support for Fair Pay for Aged Care Nurses and to work collaboratively in the new Parliament to achieve this.
The petition was tabled at the Health Select Committee the following year.
The event was covered by Radio New Zealand on Morning Report featuring an interview with Dr Frances Hughes.
2020 General Election
Select Committee hearings
The aged care petition went to the Select Committee in May 2021.