Trained nurses are settling for jobs in rest homes – but that’s better, surely, than the dole

Radio NZ’s Te Manu Korihi team seems to have tapped into a great gusher of indigenous grievances by talking with the head of an outfit called Te Kaunihera o Nga Neehi Maori – the National Council of Maori Nurses.

Alf was startled yesterday on learning that this group believes

… the colonial process is coming down like a big hammer on Maori health providers.

Roughly translated into common-sense English, this means the race-based nurses’ outfit is complaining that our district health boards don’t pay it enough heed when deciding how public money should be spent on health services within their respective domains.

But wait (as they say).

There’s more.

Today we learn that newly trained Maori nurses are taking work in rest homes

… because they can’t get a job they have trained for, according to Te Kaunihera o Nga Neehi Maori – the National Council of Maori Nurses.

And the villains of the piece?

Yep. Those bloody district health boards.

Council president Heimaima Hughes says some of its members are completing their courses but are unable to take up roles with district health boards.

Graduates have to get on to what is known as a Nurse Entry to Practice Programmes, which … Ms Hughes says are oversubscribed. She fears Maori might be put off from entering nursing.

There is no suggestion, let it be noted, that Maori nurses in particular are being sorted out for rejection from over-subscribed practice programmes.

Our concerns, accordingly, should be that aspiring nurses of all creeds and colours might be put off from entering the profession.

But Ms Hughes appears somewhat blinkered on this point.

The good news, of course, is that…

There is always work in the rest homes, and Maori health providers sometimes absorb the graduates while others go overseas, she says.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with working in rest homes, surely.

Just like there’s nothing wrong with flipping burgers if that’s the only work available, even if you do come out of university with a fancy degree in anthropology, the Greek classics, or some such.

And then Ms Hughes said something that might give a teensy clue to why her members might not be first off the rank for employment by district health boards.

People become nurses for all sorts of reasons but often Maori train in the profession because they want to improve the health of their own people, Ms Hughes says.

So they aspire to close the gap between Maori and the rest of us, in terms of health outcomes. That’s worthy.

The problem is that the Grumbles would prefer to be nursed – when the occasion arises – by professionals who are committed to improving the health of their patients regardless of their ethnicity.

We suspect the health boards see it that way, too.

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