• VIDEO: Bay nurses come out in force for better pay and safer working conditions

VIDEO: Bay nurses come out in force for better pay and safer working conditions

Thirty thousand nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants, including hundreds from Hawke's Bay, swapped their scrubs for picket signs to protest for better pay, more sick leave and safer work conditions. 

The eight-hour strike, which lasted from 11am to 7pm, disrupted non-urgent appointments and elective surgeries.

Negotiations between the union, the New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO), and district health boards (DHBs) stalled after the nurses on Monday rejected a second pay offer in their current round of negotiations. Members then "overwhelmingly" voted in favour of the industrial action.

The union wanted a 17 per cent pay rise, five more days sick leave, and for DHBs to implement ‘safe staffing’ practices. The DHBs revised their offer with changes to sick leave entitlement and there was a $4,000 lump sum in advance on the anticipated Pay Equity settlement.

In a statement, Hawke's Bay District Health Board said Hawke's Bay Hospital was very busy. 

People with non-urgent injuries and illnesses were urged to seek medical help from a pharmacy, GP, medical and urgent care centre or call Healthline on 0800 611 116 and leave the Emergency Department for emergencies only. However, they encouraged people to not delay seeking medical treatment and go to the hospital if the matter was urgent. 

In the afternoon, some Hawke's Bay Hospital wards experienced high demand due to the number of very sick patients needing more care, the HBDHB said.

Additional Life Preserving Services (LPS) requested by the HBDHB to the NZNO for more nurses to help provide additional care to these wards, as well as ED were accepted.

Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer Chris Mckenna said the DHB would like to thank patients and their families/whānau for their understanding as staff and volunteers work extremely hard to give people the care they need.

"We apologise for delays due to the strike but patient safety remains our number one priority.

"We'd also like to acknowledge and thank over 90 volunteers who have had the appropriate training in advance of today's strike to assist our teams across departments and wards."