Shortages at Dunedin Hospital has meant student nurses are taking up shifts and have been paid in Countdown Vouchers to do so.
An email sent to Otago Polytechnic Nursing School students on 22 July called for urgent help from third-year students to first years—who are only in their second semester of study.
At least 20 students filled health assistant roles at the hospital on the 23 and 24 July to do patient watches.
One first year student nurse posted a TikTok about her experience, where she said she felt underprepared for the situation as it was her first time working in a hospital environment. New Zealand Nurses Organisation president Anne Daniels said in an AM interview that the issue isn’t the non-regulated health care assistants, but the lack of nurses and health care assistants available in Aotearoa.
On 1 August the Government announced their plan to boost the number of health care workers in Aotearoa. The plan includes financial support for international workers coming into Aotearoa, training more professionals locally, and a recruitment campaign. Minister of Health, Andrew Little, noted that the problems with shortages of workers have been “exacerbated” by COVID-19 and this year’s flu season, but these are not new issues. The creation of a single national health system has meant the issues can now be looked at through a “single point of coordination”.
One anonymous nursing student who spoke to RNZ said, “I don’t think a $200 Countdown voucher equates to the work”. A student nurse at the University of Auckland, Rachel* reported to Craccum a different perspective, that she’d “be stoked with a Countdown voucher, I can’t even afford salad anymore. Obviously, it doesn’t equate, but I wouldn’t be complaining about the opportunity for some extra food money in this economy”.
*Student has been keep anonymous for privacy reasons