The New Zealand Nurses Organisaton’s (NZNO) Kaiwhakahaere, Kerri Nuku, is concerned that the Māori Health Authority (MHA) and Health New Zealand (Health NZ) boards lack representation for nurses, kaimahi hauora, midwives, rongoā practitioners or health care assistants, as well as any clear union presence.
“We welcome the members of both Boards and trust they bring some valuable experience,” Ms Nuku says. “However, it is really disheartening to see no nurse representation on either, and especially no Māori nurse representation for the Māori Health Authority after all our efforts to push for transformation in this space.
“Many of those WAI 2575 claimants were courageous enough to challenge policy and practice, and yet are not represented here either.
“Similarly, its our health unions that keep the government accountable and push for better work conditions which the ministry explicitly acknowledges must improve. We need a strong union presence for our workers who are, after all, at the heart of this change.”
Ms Nuku says that there is a significant opportunity for system change, and that its time for nurses to be taken seriously to plan for that.
“As nurses and unionists, we are system thinkers. We understand how economics and politics impacts our communities, we understand the needs of our communities and we know the realities of workers on the ground.
“Over the past thirty years health policy has been dictated by corporate interests, and dominated by medical professionals and we really have a chance to change how we do things. To rethink health provision that isn’t run like a business, and to work alongside, rather than under, medical professionals for the good of Aotearoa.
“If Health NZ is responsible for the day to day running of the health system, and the MHA is focused on tailored health services for Māori, our expertise will clearly be instrumental to achieve these intentions.
“It’s time that decisions aren’t made on our behalf, but that we are actively part of decision making. We urge both Minister Little and Minister Henare to meet with us to address this oversight.”