Hundreds of nurses have lined the pavement outside Hawke's Bay Hospital demanding better working conditions and wages, along with their compatriots around the country.

Placards and loudspeakers urging public support for the protest, which started at 7am this morning, have been met with dozens of toots from passing vehicles.

Hawke's Bay DHB New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) lead delegate, Tarryn Worsley talks to Hawke's Bay Today reporter Astrid Austin

Hawke's Bay DHB New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) lead delegate, Tarryn Worsley said their ultimate goal is to ensure a better health system for everybody.

Hawke's Bay nurses take strike action.

Nurses had a lot of responsibility on their shoulders, and they deserved better staffing and resourcing to provide quality care for patients, she said.

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"We have provided life preserving services to ensure patient care and everybody else is out here protesting."

Members of New Zealand Nurses Organisation will take strike action for 24 hours until 7am tomorrow.

Carol, who did not wish to giver her last name, has been a registered nurse since 1989 and believes the situation "couldn't be worse than it already is".

"Nurses primarily have been underfunded for a long period of time. We want safe staffing on the wards, and we want to ensure that the patients get better care with qualified nurses that can look after them to the standard that they expect."

She said for a Nurse, striking was not something they felt "morally comfortable" with. "It is a very hard decision but we have been pushed to a point where we have had to take this level of action."

Carol, like many is on-call tonight despite striking all day. "A lot of people are going the extra mile to make sure that we get this message out to the general public."

Similarly, Mike Connolly, has been a registered nurse for 30 years, 20 in New Zealand, and says the pressure on nurses never stops.

"It's now not just about the money. It's a bigger picture issue - the staffing, under-resourcing and about the state of the health system which has been seriously undermined by the government."

"What I'm seeing day in and day out over the past 20 years or so is more and more work being put on nurses on the wards and in the community."

Connolly often works through his lunch breaks and overtime.

Two-year-old Marli Daleszak-Clarke taking part in today's strike. Photo / File.
Two-year-old Marli Daleszak-Clarke taking part in today's strike. Photo / File.

Having worked as a registered nurse in both England and New Zealand, Maureen Lynch said she had better working conditions, particularly safety wise overseas than she does now.

"Experienced nurses are going to Australia or they are coming out of nursing all together because they are just spent."

Additional Life Preserving Services (LPS) have been requested by the district health board to New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO), for more nurses to help provide additional care for some hospital wards.

Striking nurses and supporters have joined the picket line outside Hawke's Bay Hospital as part of nationwide industrial action. Photo/File
Striking nurses and supporters have joined the picket line outside Hawke's Bay Hospital as part of nationwide industrial action. Photo/File

A Hawke's Bay District Health Board spokeswoman said some Hawke's Bay Hospital wards are experiencing high demand due to the number of very sick patients needing more care. This request has been agreed by NZNO.

She said while the hospital is "very busy", their aim is to keep everyone safe during the strike - "patients and staff alike".

"More staff will be working from Hastings Health Centre, The Doctors Hastings, City Medical Napier and The Doctors Napier, today."

62 volunteers, with the appropriate skills and training will provide additional support to working staff today.

People with non-urgent injuries and illnesses are urged to seek medical help from a pharmacy, GP, medical and urgent care centre, or call Healthline 0800 611 116 and leave the Emergency Department for emergencies only."

What you should do
• Nurses plan to strike for 24 hours from 7am today.

• Anyone with an urgent medical need should not hesitate to dial 111 or go to an emergency department.

• For day-to-day medical queries you can contact your GP or phone Healthline on 0800 611 116.

• If your appointment or surgery has been postponed you should have been contacted by your district health board already.

• If you have something scheduled and have not heard otherwise, you should attend as usual. If you are unsure, contact your health board.

• Patients deemed not to require "life-saving" care, who need help with tasks such as turning on bedrests, inserting intravenous pumps, and assistance going to the bathroom and bathing, will wait longer for help. Family, volunteers and doctors have been asked to help out in some cases.

• Some services like Family Planning are not affected by the strike, but others could be if the nurses are paid by the DHB so check if your appointment is still going ahead.

•Maternity services remain open and labouring women should present to Maternity as normal.

•A full list of GPs and pharmacies and their opening hours is available from www.ourhealthhb.nz.