A nurse has come under fire from teachers after a Facebook post in which she defends nurses' rights to better pay and conditions.

She does this by making a small comparison to teachers, pointing out that where teachers are demanding a 14.5 per cent pay increase, nurses have been offered 2 per cent. She also highlights that where a teacher can strike and walk off the job without too much impact apart from inconveniencing people, nurses cannot.

A nurse working in neonatal intensive care wouldn't in their wildest dreams think of walking out on that, no matter how tired or underpaid they were.
Why? Because it's not in their DNA.

I believe teachers are absolutely integral to the "village" we rely on to help raise our kids.


A teacher can be life-changing, awe inspiring, career shaping and a pivotal part of a child's life. They deserve every cent they earn and I am often awestruck at how much they do. And without drawing a direct comparison, which detracts from the good work both teachers and nurses do, nursing is more than a job. It's caregiving. It's a way of life.

You are a nurse because you care, it's certainly not an industry you go into for the perks and the money. It is relentless upgrading of skills and knowledge, often at your own expense, tiresome shift work which often doesn't end when the shift should, and very little of the fanfare and praise reserved for doctors and specialists.

Health Minister David Clark has said he understands nurses' and other health workers' hopes for better salaries under the new Government, but the reality is that "not everyone's expectations will be met". Minister for Women Julie Anne Genter acknowledges that nurses and midwives are often underpaid and under valued.

This Government has been vocal about wanting to see a more sustainable health sector. Well the old adage you get what you pay for is true - they'll need to put their money where their mouth is.

Here's the other thing about teachers (and good on them) they're well represented by very vocal unions, but we don't seem to hear from nurses as much. That probably needs to change.

But then there's the public disconnect argument. Does getting more stroppy and vocal help or hinder your plight? The public, us, you and me, are often part of the problem. We want their services, but often have the mindset of could they just get on with it please. So in her Facebook post, this nurse quite rightly asks, "will the public stand beside us?"

Kristine Bartlett, recently named New Zealander of the Year, had her tireless work for women and pay equity rewarded in the aged care, caregiving sector. But it took time, grit and dogged determination.

Every crusade needs a crusader, and I for one, hope that nurses are able to get the public on board with their crusade - and give them the support they so richly deserve.