District Health Boards have almost doubled their offer to nurses in a package of more than half a billion dollars to settle pay negotiations with the New Zealand Nurses Organisation and fend off a planned strike.
In a statement released today DHB spokesperson Helen Mason says the offer is a significant increase going beyond the recommendations of the Independent Panel proposed by the Prime Minister.
Ms Mason says the package deals with pay and also has a commitment by DHBs to address the workforce and planning issues raised by nurses.
"The offer will invest $520 million dollars between now and mid-2020 for base pay increases, more staff and improving working conditions. Almost half of that is new funding over and above the DHBs' previous offer.
"This offer will increase NZNO members' base salary and offers a range of other benefits on top of that to the majority of nurses. The salary of a Registered Nurse with five years' experience will go up by around $10,500 over 18 months – that's almost $200 extra a week by the end of 2019.
"On top of that, they’ll also get increases in on-call rates. By December 2019, the average take home pay of a full-time experienced Registered Nurse will be around $93,000 a year," Ms Mason says.
In addition to the base pay increases, Ms Mason says there will be a $2000 lump sum payment. DHBs will work with the NZNO to address its broader pay equity claim, and the Ministry of Health will provide an extra $48 million dollars to fund more nurses and measures to ensure safe staffing levels.
The announcement comes as close to 30,000 nurses, midwives and health care assistants across the country are set to strike this July in response to staffing shortages and low pay.