'We can't fix everything up after six months' – Winston Peters asks for patience in nurses' pay dispute

Winston Peters has this morning expressed his "sympathy" for nurses in their ongoing pay dispute with DHBs, but stressed the Government can't be expected to "fix everything up after six months".

The Deputy Prime Minister was asked on TVNZ Breakfast about to what extent the Government can intervene in the pay dispute, after the nurses union yesterday rejected a $500 million pay package that would raise nurses salaries by 9 per cent over the next 15 months.

"This is not a debate or an argument. The reality is we would like to facilitate the DHBs to be more generous but we can't fix everything up as a new Government after six months, all in the space of one budget,' Mr Peters said.

"We're not taking sides here, we understand the circumstance and this Government is being as self-less as it possibly can, but we've got huge infrastructural neglect all over the country, we've got more police we need, we've got so much in education we need.

"Everywhere we look there's a vacuum of concern in the past to facilitate and fund the requirements of this country and the nurses are no different in that context."

The latest DHB pay-offer rejected by the New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) was a 9 per cent pay rise over the next 15 months.

The offer includes a one-off payment of $2000, a two per cent increase in staffing, as well as two new steps on the pay scale.

The new steps would mean registered nurses with more than five years of experience could have their base salaries boosted from $66,755 to $77,386 by December next year.

Union members had voted overwhelming in favour of strike action, planned for July 5 and 13, if yesterday's offerer was rejected, which it was.

In light of this rejection, and the threat of strikes, Mr Peters asked for patience from the NZNO.

"Maybe in 2019, and 2020, and 2021, we can look forward to being able to handle to problem, but we can't do it all right now," he said.

"Personally my colleagues understand why this difficulty has arisen. But they were taking a pittance from the National Party for the last nine years. And maybe they've got expectations beyond what we can service."

Overall though, Mr Peters said he had sympathy for the nurses' plight.

"If you look at the big picture, you do have to say, you do sympathise with the nurses, and others," Mr Peters said.

"We all know, there are just some professions in this country that have just not been getting a fair deal."

The Deputy PM says the Government is trying to facilitate DHB’s to "be more generous" in their pay offer to nurses. Source: Breakfast


NZ strawberry grower forks out $20,000 for security measures

An Auckland strawberry grower has forked out more than $20,000 for metal detectors, after needle-ridden strawberries were found in New Zealand.

On Sunday, three needles were found in one punnet of Western Australian strawberries at an Auckland supermarket.

It was still unclear where the needles came from.

Australia's strawberry contamination crisis comes just as New Zealand growers are about to put their fruit on the market.

The Zaberri Strawberry farm is just 20 minutes north of Auckland City.

A large silver tin shed sits at the entrance, that's the pack house, and 29 fields lined with rows of strawberry plants surround it.

The farm's owner, who goes by one name, Boman, has run the place for nine years.

In two weeks 150 of his workers will start the harvest.

"We pick [the strawberries] in the early hours of the morning, so ideally we try to have all of our fields picked before... midday, one o'clock and they'll be picked here, and scanned and sent to the packhouse," he said.

Police in Australia have been investigating more than 100 reports of contaminated fruit, many of which are believed to be hoaxes and copycat incidents.

And every Australian strawberry now has to pass through a metal detector before it can be exported.

The same regulations have not been imposed on the 150 New Zealand growers - but Boman was not taking any risks.

"So, we've invested in metal detectors, which will be installed here before our season starts and everything that's been picked and packed will be examined.

"We'll be adding additional surveillance cameras to capture everything that goes in and out of our cool stores," he said.

Despite spending more than $20,000 on the new security measures, Boman is certain the strawberry sabotage crisis won't happen here.

"Some might think that it's over the top, but I think it is better to be ready to ensure our industry is not put into a chaos like what's happened in Australia," he said.

It's a crucial time for strawberry growers - the harvest season has already started for some and it's about to start for others.

The Australian industry, worth about $AU130 million annually, was hit at the start of its season.

The scare prompted product recalls and forced growers to destroy their crops.

If the situation here reaches the same level, the $35m New Zealand industry will be hit hard, Boman said.

"It'll have a significant impact on our financial ability going forward, and not just for us, I think right across, from the growers mainly, retailers will be affected and there will be many employees.

"We've got people here whose whole family relies on them."

The maximum penalty for contaminating food in New Zealand is ten years' imprisonment.

By Katie Scotcher


Strawberry grower Boman
Strawberry grower Boman. Source: rnz.co.nz


All Blacks legend Richie McCaw shares his top tips for success with young leaders

There's no question that plenty of kids look up to Richie McCaw and dream of the kind of success he's had.

So, you can imagine how stoked 800 odd secondary students were today when the man himself shared his own leadership lessons at the Kids with Character Empower Me Leadership seminar in Auckland.

TVNZ1's Seven Sharp asked him what his top tips were for kids.

Tip 1:

"The first one that I really live by is that you can't go past hard work, if you think it's going to be easy, if you achieve it when it's easy you're probably not going to get the satisfaction of what it's all about."

Tip 2:

"Attention to detail, understanding of what it takes as not everyone knows, asking for advice or asking for help from people around you who can see things from a different way."

Tip 3:

"You got to have that drive. It's not someone telling you that you've got to work hard, you've got to really want to do it yourself and I think the people who have that are the most successful."

All advice that will help McCaw in perhaps his biggest challenge of all, becoming a dad.

McCaw spoke at the Character Empower Me Leadership seminar in Auckland. Source: Seven Sharp



More than 200 people report adverse reactions to recently-funded antidepressant

Concern is mounting over a recently funded antidepressant, with a growing number of patients reporting life-threatening side-effects. 

Pharmac's switch to funding Enlafax a year ago saves the drug buying agency $5.4 million a year. 

It expected around 1 per cent of the 45,000 patients taking it could experience adverse reactions because of the brand switch. That's about 450 people. 

While complaints now stand at over 240 and climbing, support groups say the number of people suffering is far higher. 

In a small Bay of Plenty town, one highly experienced GP, Dr Christine Williams, is grappling with the problem.  

"I've seen people that had gambling addictions return to gambling and lose their jobs. I've seen marriages break down," Dr Williams told 1 NEWS. 

She says this patent behaviour is all linked to the generic antidepressant Enlafax.

"With this particular group of patients I don't have any that are responding to it, not one." 

The symptoms of 12 patients are similar to those experienced hundreds of kilometres away by Amy in Marlborough.

"Within two weeks of starting Enlafax I was having nightmares and feeling depressed, thoughts of self harm and suicide," Amy said. 

Medsafe is standing by its decision to approve the drug which saw Effexor-XR replaced with the cheaper generic brand Enlafax.

It says the brand switch complies with international best practice and that tests show Enlafax has the same benefits and risks as Effexor-XR. 

"They don't switch to a generic without adequate research and investigation," Dr Jan White of the NZMA GP Council said. 

Dr White says she has seen no problems from Enlafax at her busy city practice. 

But complaints about Enlafax are piling up. The agency monitoring adverse reactions to drugs has now received more than 240 complaints, many identifying side-effects like severe depression and suicidal thoughts.  

And a Facebook page set up by patients with adverse reactions claims to have logged 450 negative responses to Enlafax. 

They're experiences like those of Amy who says her GP wanted to increase her dose when she became unwell.

The mother of two only learnt about negative side-effects in a 1 NEWS report three weeks ago. 

"I'm not sure if I would be here right now if I had waited and stayed on it," Amy said.

Dr Williams said: "I'm sure it's the tip of the iceberg."

And with the prospect of more vulnerable lives unravelling, Dr Williams says it's vital the previous brand Effexor-XR remains available. 

Where to get help:

Need to Talk? Free call or text 1737 any time to speak to a trained counsellor, for any reason.
Lifeline: 0800 543 354
Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 / 0508 TAUTOKO (24/7). This is a service for people who may be thinking about suicide, or those who are concerned about family or friends.
Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757 (24/7)
Samaritans: 0800 726 666 (24/7)
Youthline: 0800 376 633 (24/7) or free text 234 (8am-12am), or email talk@youthline.co.nz
What's Up: online chat (7pm-10pm) or 0800 WHATSUP / 0800 9428 787 children's helpline (1pm-10pm weekdays, 3pm-10pm weekends)
Kidsline (ages 5-18): 0800 543 754 (24/7)
Rural Support Trust Helpline: 0800 787 254
Healthline: 0800 611 116
Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155
If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

Pharmac’s switch to Enlafax one year ago saves the drug buying agency $5.4million per year. Source: 1 NEWS

Tiny electric device could be life-changing for those paralysed from waist down

Three people whose legs were paralysed for years can stand and take steps again thanks to an electrical implant that zaps the injured spinal cord — along with months of intense rehab, US researchers reported yesterday.

The milestone, reported by two teams of scientists working separately, isn't a cure. The patients walk only with assistance — holding onto a rolling walker or with other help to keep their balance. Switch off the spinal stimulator and they no longer can voluntarily move their legs.

But during one physical therapy session at the Mayo Clinic, 29-year-old Jered Chinnock moved back and forth enough to cover about the length of a football field.

"The walking side of it isn't something where I just leave my wheelchair behind and away I go," Chinnock, of Tomah, Wisconsin, told The Associated Press. But, "there is the hopeful side of, maybe I'll gain that — where I can leave the wheelchair behind, even if it is to walk to the refrigerator."

The work is part of a quest to help people with spinal cord injuries regain function, and specialists say while it's only been attempted in a few people, it's a promising approach that needs more study.

"I'm really excited about this," said Johns Hopkins University rehabilitation expert Dr. Cristina Sadowsky, who wasn't involved in the new research. It tapped into "residual connections that are not being used" after a spinal cord injury.

Still, "not everybody who has a similar injury will respond the same," cautioned Sadowsky, who directs spinal cord therapy at Baltimore's Kennedy Krieger Institute.

Severe spinal cord injuries leave the brain's "get moving" instructions unable to reach the nerves that activate muscles. Researchers have tried other technologies, such as encasing patients in robotic-like exoskeletons or implanting muscle stimulators, to help move paralysed limbs.

With the new approach, the three patients are taking steps under their own power — intentionally moving, according to the reports published Monday by Nature Medicine and the New England Journal of Medicine.

How does it work? One theory: Circuits of nerves below the injury site are dormant, but still living. Applying electrical current, in customised patterns, could wake up some of those circuits and, with rigorous rehab to revive the rusty connections, eventually enable them to receive simple commands.

"Recovery can happen if you have the right circumstances," said University of Louisville professor Susan Harkema, who co-authored the New England Journal study. The spinal cord "relearns to do things, not as well as it did before, but it can function."

"This study gives hope to people who are faced with paralysis that functional control may be possible," said Dr. Kendall Lee, a Mayo neurosurgeon who treated Chinnock and co-authored the Nature Medicine report.

There patients in the US have taken their first steps thanks to the breakthrough technology. Source: Nine