National | Hauora

Pay parity leaving out GP nurses 'a slap in the face' - clinical director

A $200 million a year pay parity fund for community-based nurses and healthcare workers announced recently has been met with disappointment by some Māori health providers, who say it leaves out their general practice nurses.

The pay parity targets those working in aged care facilities, hospitals and home care support.

In a statement first announced by the government on November 28, Health Minister Andrew Little said he was clear the package “would not mean significant change immediately for those working in GP practices” due to “no real evidence of pay difference at this point”.

Little has said aged-care facilities and Māori and Pacific healthcare providers will receive the first $40 million tranche of the funding.

National Hauora Coalition clinical director Dr Ranche Johnson (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Korokoro, Ngāti Wharara, Te Pouka) is pleased with the first rollout going to Māori and Pacific healthcare. However, she’s disappointed that most Māori healthcare nurses, who are in the general practice sector, won’t get anything.

'Insufficient evidence'

“[Little] said that he did not see sufficient evidence of the pay gap. I think we can dispute that because we know that primary care nurses currently earn up to 20 percent less than hospital-based nurses.

“I believe the reason general practices have been left out is because general practice funding is complex. Te Whatu Ora does not directly pay nurses' wages, so to affect a change in that they’re going to look at the way in which general practice is funded.”

Johnson says a report for the Health Transition Unit two weeks ago showed the current GP revenue is below the cost of delivering care, with changes to funding based on “ethnicity, deprivation and morbidity”.

"It is pressure on top of more pressure originally brought on by Covid-19 over the last two years. With GP shortages our nurses are working really hard at the top of their scope to fill in these gaps.

“By leaving our nurses out of the planned pay parity funding it’s a real slap in the face. It leaves our GP nurses feeling undervalued by the system.”

Public Interest Journalism