The community showed strong support for nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants at the Whanganui riverside on Saturday.

The Health Needs Nursing rally was one of hundreds held around the country to highlight workloads that health workers say are unsafe and pay rates they believe are unfair.

The New Zealand Nurses' Organisation (NZNO) is calling on the Government to restore the public health system and pay nursing and midwifery teams fairly to ensure safe patient care.

Read more: Nurses rally in Wellington to highlight pay, staffing issues
Air Wanganui's business on the rise with air ambulance and high-end charter services

Advertisement

Whanganui organiser Carmel Scott said it was heartening to see around 50 staff and supporters wearing purple to show their support.

"We got a lot of encouraging comments from everyone who came and spoke to us and we felt there was a lot of understanding," she said.

"There was a lot of respect there."

Ms Scott said health workers were overworked and the knock-on effect was that patient care could be compromised.

"We want to provide the best care and if we are tired and feeling undervalued that is put at risk.

"The health and safety aspect is our main concern and we want the Government to make a bigger investment in public healthcare."

Nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants are the largest health workforce and Ms Scott said supporters could go to the healthneedsnursing.nz website and send a message to government ministers.

Thousands of Nurses' Organisation members have rejected two pay deals offered by district health boards and a vote for strike action is on the cards.

However, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has called on all parties to try an independent panel to break the deadlock.

Announced on Friday, the panel includes former Whanganui District Health Board (DHB) chief executive Julie Patterson; former director of the Reserve Bank Professor Margaret Wilson; and former NZNO CEO Geoff Annals.