The Government’s failure to reach an agreement on pay rises for 27,000 nurses means that strike action will commence in less than 48 hours as a result of the Government significantly raising expectations in Opposition, National’s Health spokesperson Michael Woodhouse says.
“The effect of this strike on patients and the wider health sector will be extremely significant. All elective surgeries will be cancelled and only life-preserving services will take place in our hospitals for 24 hours.
“The elective surgeries that have been and are being cancelled in preparation for the strike include cardiac surgery, surgeries for cancer and joint replacements. These patients may have been waiting some time for their procedures and will be devastated to learn that they are no longer going to take place.
“This will have a significant impact on patients and their families who would have made arrangements, taken time off work and otherwise emotionally prepared for their scheduled surgery only to have it cancelled.
“It’s clear that nurses were unhappy with the Government simply shifting the deck chairs on the original offer and they have now decided to push for more Government money.
“The nurses were also frustrated that the Government entered the facilitation process saying ‘that’s all the money there is’ and this is the effect of it. This move did not reflect good faith bargaining and it is now unclear how the situation will be resolved.
“The DHBs requested a reconvening of facilitation, however, NZNO has decided that due to the lack of additional funding to support an improved offer this is not appropriate.
“The Government has completely lost control of the process due to its mishandling. Because the Government restricted the facilitation process it is now likely to be unavailable to aid in resolving the negotiations.
“It is unclear where the process goes from here now that facilitation seems to be unavailable. The Government must regain control of the situation and settle with the nurses as soon as possible to minimise the impact of this strike on patients and the sector.”