Justin Butcher, Pinnacle CEO
The health minister announced yesterday that around 4,800 more practice nurses and kaiāwhina, and 1,300 community nurses and kaiāwhina will be eligible for pay rises of 8 per cent on average.
The top up comes from a $200 million fund established to remove pay disparities between nurses working in different parts of the health system and represents the government’s latest action taken to boost nurses’ pay.
Continued pay inequity is not a sustainable option for primary care practice nurses. After 12 months of intense advocacy for primary care around nurse pay disparity and other issues, we are pleased to see some action. We view this as the first step in a journey to pay equity rather than this announcement being the destination.
The 8 per cent is an average increase to bring everyone to 95 per cent of the MECA. There is still some finer detail to come from Te Whatu Ora around how it will be implemented and what it might mean for practices that are already paying their nurses above the primary care MECA rate.
An 8 per cent (on average) increase is 8 per cent (on average) more than what we had last week, and if anything will only serve to re-energise us to keep striving towards the goal, which is pay parity for all nurses across primary care, hospitals, community and kaiāwhina.
We’re getting closer, but we’ve still got some way to go before we reach the goal of pay equity with nurses in hospitals. This increase won’t necessarily stop nurses from leaving GP and community practice for hospital work, but hopefully it’s more of an incentive for them to stay in primary care.
Pinnacle welcomes the increase, just as we welcomed the scrapping of the $5 prescription co-payment announced in Budget 2023. Every bit helps.
It’s going to take a lot more than this to address the issues and inequities in the health system, but it’s a bit of good news to round out the week, and we’ll take it.
CEO of Pinnacle Midlands Health Network