This is what a pay gap for nurses looks like at Family Planning. A closed clinic with no clients and no staff to see them even if they did turn up.
This isn’t a small clinic in a provincial town – this is the waiting room of our Wellington Clinic which was closed for 5 days in August this year and three days this month so far.
Across the country, chief executive Jackie Edmond says Family Planning clinics were closed for a total of 64 days during August this year. And, she attributes these closures directly to the growing pay gap between primary care nurses and their hospital counterparts.
“Around 80 per cent of our consultations are with a nurse – so when we can’t retain or recruit, in large part because of the pay gap with our hospital colleagues – our ability to offer services is hugely disrupted,” Ms Edmond says. “Currently, just over 24 per cent of our nursing positions are vacant.
“We worry about this impact which pushes out wait times. We know that young people are most impacted by the closures.
“About 1 in 6 of the young people (16 to 19 years old) we see don’t have another regular health provider and 1 in 5 of them don’t know where else to go to get contraception. When we are forced to close clinics because we don’t have staff to open them, it is these young people that are at most risk of unintended pregnancy or sexually transmitted infection,” Ms Edmond says.