It's International Nurses Day tomorrow and the Ministry of Health's Chief Nursing Office is celebrating New Zealand’s largest ever nursing workforce.
There are now 58,206 enrolled nurses, registered nurses and nurse practitioners working across New Zealand.
That compares to 56,356 nurses at the end of March last year and 55,290 working in the sector the previous year.
“That means in the past year an extra 1850 have joined the workforce," says Chief Nursing Officer Margareth Broodkoorn.
“The past year has been a busy one for nurses including the collective agreement signed with the New Zealand Nurses Organisation."
"Nurses are often the first port of call for people seeking health care in New Zealand, either in primary care, DHBs or other parts of the health care sector. It’s so important to support nurses to deliver the best care they can by boosting their numbers and helping to grow a safe and healthy workforce.”
“That’s why an important part of last year's settlement was ensuring an extra 500 nurses are employed in our sector. Already most of our DHBs have completed their recruitment and those nurses are already working on our wards, in the community and other practice areas.”
“It's clear to me that the partnership approach we've taken to nursing workforce issues in the Accord signals a new way of DHBs, health unions and the Ministry working more closely together."
"While there are many challenges in healthcare, it's a great time for new opportunities for nurses. We know, as with anything, there's always more work to be done but every day New Zealand's nurses continue to make a massive contribution to our communities. Recent events in Christchurch show the difference that nurses and other health practitioners can make in times of crisis."
“Not only are the number of nurses in the sector on the rise, but so too is the number of our most highly trained nurses. Currently more than 370 nurse practitioners are working in New Zealand and the numbers are rising every day."
“Nurse practitioners are a highly skilled part of our health sector with 5 years of formal training including a Clinical Master Degree. They have a really important role to play in patient care,” says Margareth Broodkoorn.
"I can see even more opportunities to increase the numbers of nurse practitioners in priority areas including primary care, rural health, aged care, child health and mental health and addictions to increase access to care."
Margareth Broodkoorn says it’s also really important to ensure we continue to focus on equity across the health sector.
“Ultimately a fairer health system will mean better access to treatment for all New Zealanders. It’s pleasing to see the number of Māori nurse practitioners is also growing quickly.”
"Just last year new legislation was passed broadening the scope of practice for nurse practitioners and other health professionals."
“These changes have already benefited communities throughout New Zealand – improving access for those in smaller, rural communities who will no longer have to wait to see a medical professional just to get a prescription or a signed medical certificate.”
“At the end of the day, the Ministry is committed to improving access to health care for all New Zealanders and I can only see that access improving as we train and employ even more nurses."