Hunger strike ended

August 2012

The hunger strike by nine Indian nurses ended last week after a meeting with the Nursing Council over their registration options ended in stalemate.

A spokesperson for the United Nurses New Zealand group said the two and a half day hunger strike was called off following meeting with the Council and after “high pressure from relatives and New Zealanders”. The strikers, whose registration has been stalled or declined for not meeting educational equivalency requirements, left the meeting disappointed with the options offered.

Nursing Council chief executive Carolyn Reed said the council had explained the options available to the nurses including presenting their individual case to council, registering as an enrolled nurse or seeking recognition of prior learning and completing an undergraduate nursing degree.

“The nine nurses wanted an opportunity outside of these three options and we were unable to provide that. Clearly they were disappointed,” Reed said.

The Nursing Council’s consistent stand has been that overseas-qualified nurses are advised on its website not to come to New Zealand until being assessed as having educational equivalency and offered a place on a competence assessment programme. But the nine nurses, who have invested tens of thousands of dollars on training in New Zealand came as they believed, on the advice of agents and the experience of colleagues, that they could gain educational equivalency with their three year nursing diplomas and subsequent training and experience.

Meanwhile Indian students and graduates of Waiariki and UCOL nursing schools’ one year RN to BN (bachelor of nursing) bridging programmes will be offered educational equivalency if they successfully pass an extra clinical assessment course approved by Nursing Council.

Wairiki Institute of Technology had sought for a similar pathway to be offered to graduates of its infection control postgraduate certificate and diploma programmes but Nursing Council last week declined their request saying each registration application needed to be assessed individually.

About 45 infection control students are believed to have attended a meeting with the Nursing Council last Friday to discuss registration. Reed said the cohort she met came from many different countries. Some were likely to meet the standard required for registration in New Zealand and those that did not would be offered the same options offered to the United Nurses group.

She reiterated that the council’s role was to protect public safety and the standards set for registration in New Zealand were the same for all nurses.