The supply of nurses must be developed and wherever nurses worked, they should not marginalised. There should be no pay differentials, whether nurses chose to work with Māori and iwi providers, in primary health care (PHC) or aged care. “Nurses must be recognised for the skills and professionalism they bring to the health sector. We should never lose the art of nursing and the science,” she said.
Recapping the conference theme, Nuku said COVID-19 had been a real test of Aotearoa New Zealand’s planning and preparedness. She referred to the inconsistent messages from the Ministry of Health about personal protective equipment – supply, distribution, access and its use. The virus had placed “extraordinary pressure” on an already stretched health system. NZNO supported the call for a royal inquiry, which must include the Health and Safety at Work Act.
She referred to the future nursing workforce, the need to mobilise a PHC/community workforce and that students must take an active role in decreasing health disparities. She stressed the importance of community development and whānau ora approaches, and of ensuring diverse and vulnerable populations were not missed in preparations for the future.