Aged-care nurse makes heartfelt plea at Day of Action

April 18, 2023

On Saturday, over 2000 nurses and health care assistants around the country hit the streets to demand action on the health staffing crisis. For many, it was also a chance to seek solace with their fellow exhausted colleagues while facing another winter of chronic short-staffing.

Wellington rally

Supporters at the Wellington rally make a good point.

Parliament

Members and supporters on the steps of Parliament, in Wellington.

Auckland nurses

Auckland nurses fit the rally in with a work day.

Dunedin

Dunedin turned up the sun for Saturday’s rally.

Nelson rally

Members at the Nelson rally in Tahunanui.

Whakatāne

Whakatāne members get their message across at The Strand, Wharaurangi

Whānau at Auckland

Whānau at Auckland rally.

Hamilton

Hamilton supporters get behind the action.

Rawene

In Rawene, members and supporters made their voices heard.

Whangārei

Whangārei members get set up for their event.

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Over 2000 nurses, health care workers and supporters turned out at rallies around the country in a National Day of Action on Saturday.

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As winter and associated illnesses are imminent, nurses and health care workers are raising the alarm about the chronic short-staffing throughout the health system.

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Among them was registered nurse (RN) Madel Manzano from an aged care facility in Whangārei, who passionately described the exhaustion and desperate understaffing she and other nurses face.

“This morning I was feeling really low, but my spirit said to me: maranga mai Madel, so I came here to be with you all.”

Manzano said she was sometimes responsible for 76 patients as the only senior nurse on a shift.

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“You would probably think how would I manage that – and on call overnight. You work five days and are on call because there is no nurse (rostered) during the night.”

Manzano asked those at the rally who would help to fix the crisis.

” . . .  the Minister of Health, the Minister of Finance, the Prime Minister? It is time, because it’s voting time, they need to hear us.”

Representing providers from every sector – hospitals, primary health care, aged care, and Māori and iwi providers –  members gave up Saturday activities to demand fixes to the broken health system they are working in.

A petition is calling on politicians to commit to fixing our broken health system, including at least 4000 nurses to fill the current staffing gaps.

A petition – ‘We need nurses’ – asking political parties to fix the nursing shortage was launched on the same day and had recieved over 7000 online signatures by Tuesday morning.

It calls on political parties to commit to:

  • 4000 more nurses trained and on the job
  • pay that values the nursing workforce right across the health sector and attracts more nurses
  • te Tiriti being upheld across our health services to remove inequities

At the Wellington rally, Hutt Hospital nurse Kathy Ward said there were “never enough of us”, her colleague Rebecca Wilton adding that more nurses needed to be trained.

RN Sally Jane attended the Christchurch rally with her daughter Elizabeth. She is very concerned about whooping cough and measles outbreaks amidst an already stretched workforce.

Child health RN Sally Jane said she was at the Christchurch rally to demand the Government fix the dire nursing shortage with paid training and a bonding programme for graduate nurses.

“We just need more nurses – and midwives.”

Many of her young, high-needs patients needed to be in hospital regularly, and Jane said the ward was always under-staffed.

She was very concerned about the increase in winter illnesses, and especially the spectre of a whooping cough outbreak.

“And we know measles is going to be a disaster because the immunisation rates are so low.”