Labour today joins with all New Zealanders to acknowledge the work and worth of nurses on International Nurses Day.
"International Nurses Day is celebrated around the world on the anniversary of Florence Nightingale's birth," Labour's Health spokesperson, Maryan Street said.
"Most New Zealanders have had something to do with a nurse at some point in their life, whether it is when they are vaccinated as infants, attended to at their GP's clinic, cared for in hospital during an illness, or looked after in a hospice at the end of their lives.
"Nurses provide a wide range of skilled care and underpin our health system. They deserve our thanks and support every day of the year of course, and setting aside a special day to celebrate everything they do is recognition of that.
"I am proud that it was a Labour government in 2004 which recognised the value of nurses and brought about a significant pay jolt for them, a move which has helped in the long term to stem recruitment and retention problems.
"I negotiated that settlement with the nurses on behalf of the DHBs at the time and it was an important moment when nurses felt valued for what they do," Maryan Street said.
"The theme for this year's celebration is Closing the Gap: From Evidence to Action. That is a very appropriate theme given the increasing gap in health outcomes between the rich and the poor in New Zealand.
"Nurses will play a critical and expanding role in closing that gap. However their job has been made harder through a lack of funding and the upcoming budget looks set to see community health services cut further, despite the Minister's claim of putting more money in to health overall.
"Nurses are at the sharp end of health care delivery and they know what it is like for families out there in the community. On this particular day, we thank them for everything they do," said Maryan Street.
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