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Medical staff stage rally

Nurses, doctors, and other medical professionals rallied outside Masterton Hospital yesterday as part of a nationwide ‘day of action’ to call for safer staffing ratios and better working conditions.

“We are down here today because we believe that the health service in New Zealand is chronically under-budgeted,” New Zealand Nurses Organisation [NZNO] Wairarapa delegate Amber Cox said at the rally.

“Several NZNO members and members from other unions and organisations have come to support us in asking for better conditions.

“It might not necessarily be hospital nurses; we have got nurses from Aged Care and Autism Wairarapa, and we are asking for improvements in all areas of health.”

Two medical professionals who wished to remain anonymous also spoke to the Times-Age.

“The cost-cutting from the government means we won’t be able to provide safe and efficient care, and I feel strongly that health is the last thing you should cut costs for; it is people’s lives,” one nurse said.

“I feel like we need a better patient-to-nurse ratio.”

“We have been told to save half a million [at Wairarapa Hospital] within three months, and that has a flow-on effect to the community,” another nurse said.

“I’m seeing the GPs under pressure because they can’t recruit, and people are waiting weeks to get a GP appointment.

“Services are being trimmed.”

An NZNO spokesperson said the ‘day of action’ followed receiving information from Health NZ Te Whatu Ora under the Official Information Act that revealed the extent of the staffing problem across the country.

In the year to December 31, 2023, the OIA response showed more than a quarter of nursing shifts were below safe staffing targets, and some wards operated below safe staffing levels nearly all of the time.

Freddie Wilkie
Freddie Wilkie
Freddie Wilkie is a journalist at the Wairarapa Times-Age; originally moving from Christchurch, he is interested in housing stories as well as covering emergencies and crime.

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