Safe staffing accord reached between DHBs and Nurses

David Clark has announced an agreement reached between Nurses and DHBs over safe staffing. Photo: Lynn Grieveson

Health Minister David Clark has announced an agreement between District Health Boards, the Nurses Organisation and the Ministry of Health over safe staffing levels.

The deal comes against the backdrop of a breakdown in relations between nurses and DHBs and the two parties struggle to reach agreement over the latest wage round.

Four deals have been voted down leading to a 24-hour strike on July 12. A fifth deal, worth $530 million, is currently before nurses. Nurses have raised concerns about staffing levels during their negotiations.

A commitment to funding an extra 500 DHB nurses is part of the current offer. The accord announced today will mean that DHBs and the Ministry will work with the NZNO to monitor the implementation of the ‘Care Capacity Demand Management’ (CCDM) tool.

CCDM was developed by the Safe Staffing Healthy Workplaces Unit, which was itself developed after an agreement between DHBs and Nurses. Work on CCDM began in 2009.

The CCDM is intended to ensure that DHBs accurately match the forecast demand for their services with appropriate levels of staff who are trained in the appropriate fields.

Clark said that he will ask the State Services Commissioner to “consider” including wording that reflects today’s accord in the performance expectations of the Director-General of Health. Clark will also ask DHB Chairs to consider similar wording in performance expectations of DHB executives.

Clark will be hoping today’s announcement encourages nurses to vote for the latest pay agreement reached with DHBs. Voting closes at 5pm on Monday 6 August.

The agreement has the support of the NZNO but RNZ has reported that comments on a private Facebook group for nurses are “overwhelmingly negative,” saying that the DHBs pay offer was “catch-up” and that 1500, not 500 extra nurses were needed.