International Nurses Day highlights the value of investing in our nurses

As the largest single regulated workforce in the health sector, nurses cover a broad range of health settings and are making a difference in the lives of all peoples around the world.

This Sunday is International Nurses Day – a time to recognise and celebrate nurses and their amazing mahi. A time to say thank you.

The theme of the day is, “Our Nurses, Our Future. The economic power of care,” highlighting the economic and societal benefits from investment in the nursing sector.

Everyone who has connected with the health system will have experienced the manaakitanga that nurses provide, whenever and wherever they are needed.

“The most meaningful way to say thank you is to ensure we look after nurses’ wellbeing, by helping make nursing a profession they’re proud to be part of and where they feel truly valued. Health New Zealand | Te Whatu Ora is working hard to achieve that,” says Emma Hickson, Health NZ’s National Chief Nurse.

At Health NZ, the largest single employer of nurses, in the year to December 2023 the nursing workforce grew by 2,500 to around 28,200. In fact, over the past five years we have seen a 22.7% increase in the number of nurses employed by Health NZ.

Since 2017 there has been a 53% increase in graduate nursing salaries and a 60% increase in the top step salary for registered nurses. The recent pay equity settlement notably increased nursing salaries.

“In Aotearoa we also acknowledge the special contributions made by our Māori and Pacific nurses to the communities they work with,” says Nadine Gray, Chief Nursing Officer, Hauora Māori Services.

The importance of the nursing workforce reflecting the communities it works in cannot be overstated.

“Growing our Māori and Pacific nursing workforce is a top priority for us, one that requires real commitment.”

“There are still pressures on the wider nursing workforce. In particular, there remains a need to grow some specialist nursing workforces, including in mental health and addictions services and critical care,” says Emma Hickson.

“Our focus remains on continuing to grow nursing numbers, especially through domestic training as well as focussing on international recruitment for specialist roles.”

Lorraine Hetaraka, Chief Nursing Officer, Manatū Hauora, says “A strong and effective nursing workforce will improve people, whānau and communities’ wellbeing in addition to enhancing patient outcomes.”

“Better health and wellbeing will reduce long-term effects to the health system, which in turn benefits all of us.”

International Nurses Day is chance to acknowledge the amazing work our highly skilled and committed nurses do day-in day-out to deliver excellent healthcare.

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