Overworked nurses say they'll strike if nothing is done to improve their pay and working conditions.
On Monday, nurses and midwives rejected a 2 percent pay rise offer from New Zealand's district health boards (DHBs).
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One registered nurse says the issue is well beyond insufficient pay.
According to registered nurse Freya Head, younger nurses have been less accepting of working conditions which could be why the industry has making headlines.
“They’re not happy to just sit by idly and have this behaviour be treated as acceptable,” she told Stephen McIvor.
She said the “low morale” of many nurses comes from years of a stressful work environment, which includes “horizontal bullying” in the nurse industry.
The RN alleges the following as symptoms of horizontal bullying: being pulled up for small errors, given heavy patients, being denied annual leave, not offered spot leave, not given roster requests or purposefully difficult rosters, and strong push-back if a nurse tries to tackle issues.
“I think it’s from all levels, really,” she told RadioLIVE. “As horrible as that is to say.”
She believes that the debate with DHB is not just about the money, but includes issues like a toxic work environment.
“It’s all entwined,” Ms Head said, remarking that some nurses may bully others because of the high-pressure environment.
Ms Head is confident to go on strike if necessary.
“It’s just not good enough in this day and age anymore.”
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern ruled out an immediate cash injection to fund the nurses' pay rise, but admitted that the health sector's finances are worse than she expected.
Ms Ardern has recommended that the DHBs refer to an independent panel to help them assess the current offer and future negotiations with the union.
Dr Ashley Bloomfield told The AM Show that the DHBs understand that it’s not just about the money.
“They really are feeling under a lot of pressure – there’s very high demand on our services.
“And they wanted to know that the District Health Boards are listening and taking that seriously,” the DHB spoksperson said.
Listen the full interview with Freya Head above.