The impasse in negotiations around primary care nursing pay cannot be resolved through what are seen as pointless talks between general practice and nursing representatives according to GenPro, the General Practice Owners Association, whose objectives include improving the health of the population of New Zealand and advocating for high-quality, accessible and equitable patient care.
The New Zealand Nurses Organisation announced yesterday, 21 May 2020, that after prolonged negotiations, primary health care nurses had voted down a final offer from employers of 2.5 and 2 percent pay increases over two years. That was a predictable outcome in the opinion of the Chair of GenPro, Dr Tim Malloy (pictured), who said “It’s no surprise whatsoever that this pay offer has been rejected. Why should we expect a well-qualified and experienced nurse to work in primary care for typically 10% less pay than their District Health Board counterparts? This inequity is simply insulting to our nurses and the vital front-line service they are directly providing for our communities.”
GenPro believes that the solution to the impasse is in the hands of those who negotiate the broader contractual terms for primary care and general practice services. “This is symptomatic of a wider issue and a fragmented health system that fails to appropriately consider or value the role of primary health care teams. When the DHB nursing MECA was settled, it was presumably settled at a level that was affordable for DHBs, but I have to question why the implications for primary care were not taken into account at the same time. It is time to change the underpinning principles and formulae that drive the range of separate discussions across the health system – discussions which simply do not match the rhetoric of supporting a primary care sector that has faced increased costs as the first line of attack against COVID-19 and is deemed a priority in letters of ministerial expectations.”
As a newly established representative association GenPro has not been directly involved in either negotiations to date, but with the significant impact that such negotiations have on each and every general practice business owner, Dr Malloy says that the process has to change “..and GenPro is keen to work in collaboration with the Government to ensure that future generations can rely on the availability of a sustainable, viable and high quality general practice service.”