MidCentral nurses and midwives to strike again for better pay and working conditions

MidCentral District Health Board Nurses are striking again on August 19 (File photo).
David Unwin/Stuff
MidCentral District Health Board Nurses are striking again on August 19 (File photo).

MidCentral District Health Board nurses and midwives are striking again to demand better pay and safer staffing.

New Zealand Nurses Organisation and Midwifery Employee Representation and Advisory Service members would strike on August 19, with a full withdrawal of labour.

Nurses would strike for eight hours between 11am and 7pm and midwives would strike for 12 hours, between 8am and 8pm.

MidCentral District Health Board executive director of nursing and midwifery Celina Eves said it was focused on the safety of patients and staff through this period.

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DAVID UNWIN/STUFF
Nurses were on strike outside Palmerston North Hospital on June 9 because of a lack of resources, staffing levels and pay.

She said it respected staff members on the collective agreement’s right to strike and had been working with both unions to mitigate the risks.

It had life preserving services agreements with the unions, which meant emergency and essential services would continue.

MidCentral District Health Board chief executive Kathryn Cook said the actions would cover all union members working at Palmerston North Hospital, Horowhenua Health Centre and other MidCentral District Health Board facilities.

The emergency department would be affected, so it was important people only visited for a medical emergency.

“We are here for you if you need us, and if you or a loved one are experiencing an emergency, please phone 111 without delay.”

She encouraged anyone who needed non-urgent care to visit a GP, local community pharmacy, or to free-phone Healthline at 0800 611 116.

Cook said some elective procedures and clinics had been deferred during the strike to free up staff, and people whose appointments or procedures were impacted would be contacted beforehand.

Health professionals, other health board staff and whānau were working together to ensure patients received the best possible care, she said.

“Family and whānau can be of real value by being with their loved ones and available to help, whether it’s making them more comfortable in their bed, helping them to and from the bathroom, making them a hot drink or getting them something to eat.”

She said family or whānau would not be asked to undertake clinical duties or do anything that should be done by a health professional.

“But having one or two whānau members available throughout the strike day will help significantly and be greatly appreciated.”

This was the second of three planned strikes, after New Zealand Nurses Organisation members voted to reject the latest pay offer.

The union said the offer failed to clearly set out how safe staffing would be addressed and how the district health boards would be held accountable for it.

The first strike was on June 9, where nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants lined Ruahine St outside Palmerston North Hospital chanting, waving placards and banners.

The third was on September 9 for 24 hours.