An Auckland woman with no nursing experience is being instructed to drive two hours to care for her ill mother while nurses go on strike.
A 24-hour nationwide strike has been signalled to take place on Thursday after nurses rejected the Government's latest pay offer yesterday.
Maureen Lennon said she was appalled to receive a phone call this morning from a staff nurse at Thames Hospital implying that either she looked after her 86-year-old mother or she will be left unattended.
Her elderly mother has been in hospital for nearly three weeks after a fall that broke her pelvis, as well as suffering an ongoing bowel issue.
"My concern is my mum's safety. There's quite a lot involved in managing her care. I'll do the best I can for my mother and of course I'll be there but I'm extremely worried."
Lennon said she will be expected to shower, toilet and attend her mother's every need without backup.
"I understand doctors will be doing medication round but that's about it."
With less than 24 hours notice Lennon said she has been given no option but to urgently leave her work and drive down to Thames tonight so she can be at the hospital by 7am tomorrow.
She has been offered a Lazyboy to sleep on while the strikes go through the night.
A Waikato District Health Board spokesperson confirmed families were being asked to care for their loved ones while nurses were on strike but they would not be expected to travel from another city.
"We don't really have a choice. Our priority is life-threatening patients," the WDHB spokesperson said.
Lennon said she worried about the safety of the patients.
The WDHB spokesperson said at the moment there were 20 inpatients at Thames Hospital and two nurses will be on duty during the strikes.
"I can assure they will be cared for."