[color=#6f6f6f]new zealand herald, new zealand
a health crisis is looming as the average age of nurses continues to rise, says new zealand nurses organisation president jane o'malley.
the average age was about 43 years and rising, which spelled trouble as an ageing patient population also placed growing demands on the healthcare system, dr o'malley told an annual southern convention of the organisation in dunedin yesterday.
the average age of nursing trainees had also risen sharply and was now about 30, with fewer younger people attracted to a job widely seen as overworked and underpaid.
if patients were to be cared for adequately, new zealand needed to recruit more young nurses to replace retiring staff, retain existing staff and coax back many of about 5000 qualified people who retained current practising certificates but chose not to work as nurses, dr o'malley said.
new zealand faced several serious nursing workforce issues, including the loss of recently trained nurses to higher paid jobs abroad as they sought to repay substantial loans. but key underlying issues were inadequate pay and unfavourable nurse-patient ratios.
auckland-based nzno manager laila harre said the organisation would seek to establish a single national collective agreement when its presents agreements expired in june. further talks would also be held with the government to increase nurses' pay and to provide a better deal for both patients and nurses.