Primary Health Care nurse Katelyn Carmody on Tahunanui Drive protesting a pay gap with other health board nurses. Photo: Supplied.

Nurses strike to close pay gap

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Staff from doctors’ surgeries across Nelson went on strike last week over a pay gap with health board staff.

Primary Health Care Nurses (PHC), as well as administration and reception staff from GPs around Nelson joined thousands of colleagues across the country in strike action on Thursday.

Gathering at key locations to picket for equal pay in line with District Health Board nurses, frustrated staff say they are being paid 10.6 per cent less.

Wakefield Health Centre practice nurse Katelyn Carmody says it’s frustrating to not feel as valued as hospital nurses.

“We’ve all got the same qualifications and we all work long hours, it’s just not fair that we are paid 10 per cent less.

“We are the first port of call, when you wake up and you’re not feeling right, you call us.”

Katelyn says being based in Wakefield means they see a lot of people who don’t want to go into the hospital.

“We see lacerations and things like that who pop in at 5pm because they don’t want to head into the emergency department and we totally understand that. We don’t want to send people in who we can help.”

She says their day begins at 8am with triaging patients, trying to get people seen as well as things like bloods, diabetic reviews and IV medications.

“Our days are chocka block from start to finish but for some reason we are not valued the same as hospital staff.”

She says the nurses at her practice have full support from their employer but says their hands are tied due to caps in place from the DHB.

“We really want to stress our GPs are really for this, they are very supportive and it’s not a case of them not wanting us to be paid more but they can’t. The change needs to come from the DHB.”

New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) industrial advisor for the PHC sector Chris Wilson says the situation is simply not good enough considering negotiations have been going on for nearly a year.

“We have been informed there have been discussions occurring in recent weeks about pay parity at a government level, but nothing tangible has yet been forthcoming.

“The Government has known about the urgency of pay parity in PHC for at least a year, and to not pull out all stops to address the serious PHC recruitment and retention issues is beyond belief,” she says.

Katelyn says they received a lot of support during the strike.

“People were all for it, especially once they realised that it’s not just simply up to the GP to pay more.”