Ten reasons to support the nurses:
1. Adjusted for inflation and our rising population, health funding has had 10 years of cuts. As patients, we can experience the resulting decline in service, but have little power beyond voting every three years to do anything about it.
If the nurses are victorious, then they're going to be much more confident to challenge the Government in the future. A confident and proud collective of nurses can help ensure the public healthcare standards we expect are maintained, regardless of who's in power and at which point in the electoral cycle.
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2. The nurses want fixed staffing ratios of one nurse per four patients. At present no such ratio exists, therefore there's nothing to stop DHBs from cutting corners on staffing. A ratio in place will lead to increased patient safety.
3. If nurses aren't paid more, they'll keep leaving to go overseas where the money and working conditions are better. Highly trained and experienced nurses can't be magically wished into existence. It will cost less to keep nurses in the country through higher pay scales than it will to train new nurses.
Now or in the future, you could be dating a nurse, married to a nurse, the parent of a nurse, a child of a nurse, a friend of a nurse. A better paid, less stressed nurse, is going to have fringe benefits for a whole lot of other people.
5. If you're a teacher, Inland Revenue staff member, or anyone else working in the public sector, you'll want the nurses to win a fair deal. It's going to make your case for a pay rise or extra staffing that much better.
6. Higher wages and increased numbers of people working for the public sector will put upwards pressure on wages generally, which private sector employers will have to respond to as well.
7. Nurses could help blow apart Labour and the Greens self-imposed Budget Responsibility Rules, which restricts Government spending to under 30 per cent of GDP.
The education and health systems are always going to be under stress while this limit is in place. If the nurses don't back down and more strike action is taken, forcing a better offer, then nurses could begin a process by which this Government is saved from itself.
Nurses are fighting for a health system where skilled and experienced health professionals are well paid. No one's saying this isn't costly, it is. Faced with the bill, rather than scrimping on hospital funding, the better option would be for the Government to pursue prevention, like implementing controls on sugar content of food and drinks, or more money into primary health initiatives and community doctors, so that we don't have so many people turning up at hospitals in the first place.
9. The nursing workforce is one of the most ethnically diverse in the country. The nurses' union is a force not just for gender equality, they're a force for cultural diversity and respect.
10. Nurses are nice. It's in their job description. If they were less stressed they might even be nicer. If I'm in hospital sick or dying I want the nurses to be happy and as nice as they can be.