Whānau Āwhina Plunket says it is struggling to keep and attract its essential nursing and healthcare workforce due to the pay gap and whānau are missing out.

The country’s largest health and wellbeing support service for tamariki under five is part of a collective of primary, community and telehealth organisations calling on political parties to commit to pay parity.

Chief executive Fiona Kingsford said there was a 15 to 35% pay gap for its nurses and healthcare workers compared to those employed by Te Whatu Ora.

For the East Coast including Hawke’s Bay, Central Region Clinical Services Manager Debs Higgins said the lack of pay parity with Te Whatu Ora was having a “big impact” on their ability to recruit and retain nurses and healthcare workers and ultimately deliver to whānau who need them.

“On the East Coast we have two Plunket nurse vacancies in Tairāwhiti Gisborne and no nurse in Wairoa,” Higgins said.

“We currently have one nurse travelling to Wairoa from Napier to ensure whānau are not missing out. The nurse is seeing around 130 whānau and travelling there a couple of days each fortnight.”

Kingsford said the organisation overall was short of 35 nurses and 9 kaiāwhina or community Karitāne.

“With these vacancy rates, the reality is we are potentially missing 140 visits to whānau every day,” she said.

“Our kaimahi are essential to ensuring pēpi have the best start in life and our māmā are supported. We are there to identify health issues early, and ultimately keep them out of our overrun hospitals.”

Kingsford said the incoming government must address nurse pay parity “urgently”.

“We require 100% pay parity with Te Whatu Ora employed nurses and healthcare workers if we are to keep providing essential services in our communities. We cannot afford to pay more, and it is putting services at risk.”

Despite the challenges, the group reiterated that care was available, although it may be provided differently as organisations designed ways to navigate their staffing shortages.

Public Interest Journalism funded by NZ on Air


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