Nurses 'should be getting pay equity', says Minister of Health, but it's 'further down'

The Minister of Health said they ‘should’ be getting pay equity, but there is a process that needs to be undertaken. Source: Q+A

Pay equity for nurses is "further down" the list, says Health Minister Dr David Clark. 

On TVNZ1's Q+A this morning, Dr Clark said, "We won't be able to afford everything straight away", when asked by host Corin Dann if nurses would get pay equity this term.

"We won't be able to afford everything in our first Budget. We've got to do it step by step, and there is a backlog of underfunding."

"It's a serious issue, but it does need to be tackled."

He said a shift towards pay equity was in the previous negotiation offer that was rejected by nurses. 

"There’s no doubt their expectations are up. But now we’ve got a process in place, and we’ve got to approach that in good faith."

When pushed by Mr Dann why nurses shouldn't get pay equity, despite other health sectors such as mental health workers gaining pay equity, Dr Clark said, "They should be getting pay equity, but there is a process to work through to work out how we do that". 

Mr Dann asked about the estimated cost from collective bargaining and pay equity for nurses over three years being $750 million. 

"You don't have it, do you?" Mr Dann asked. 

Dr Clark agreed the amount was a large sum, but said "of course we have the money".

"And that's why we did our sums very carefully when we were in opposition, and the promises that have been made in the coalition agreements and the confidence and supply agreements will be kept. We have accounted for them and we will deliver on them," Dr Clark said.