Contribution towards Pay Disparity – A Bandaid not a Solution

Hospices around the country are welcoming a pay boost next week as Te Whatu Ora pay out the first $40 million to close the pay gap between nurses in primary and community providers and Te Whatu Ora employed nurses.

27 hospices will receive a share of around $1.8 million of this funding.

While the additional funding will certainly be appreciated by hospices, and hopefully will go some way to resolving serious workforce shortages and recruitment challenges, Chief Executive of Hospice New Zealand, Wayne Naylor, says it is still not a solution to sustainable hospice funding.

“We’ve been pleased to work with Te Whatu Ora to distribute this funding and it is an important step in the right direction”, he says “But funding to improve staff pay is just one piece of the puzzle to achieve sustainable hospice funding.”

The funding, originally announced by Minister Little last year as “pay parity for all health workers in primary and community care” is now described by Te Whatu Ora as a “contribution towards pay disparity to address the pay gap” and is for nursing staff only.  Mr Naylor says it will not address the pay disparity for a large proportion of other hospice staff including Allied Health, family support and administration staff.

There is a separate Social Workers Pay Equity Settlement being progressed through the Public Service Commission to bring all community social workers onto the same national scale and this will include social workers working in hospices.

“Pay parity is a long way off,” says Mr Naylor.  “Since Te Whatu Ora announced  the increase in its nurse salaries in line with the in-principle pay equity rates agreed in 2021,  it has  become unaffordable for them to use their nursing staff salary scale as the baseline for the pay parity in other sectors”.

“So, the base has now been set at 95% of Te Whatu Ora rates meaning that pay parity is even less achievable.” With a hospice nurse being paid up to $20,000 less than an equivalent Te Whatu Ora nurse, this means parity is even more unrealistic.”

“I’m concerned that smaller hospices will receive little funding and they are the ones with the greatest gaps to Te Whatu Ora pay rates.  If Te Whatu Ora really want to see primary and community health providers on an equal footing with hospital and specialist services, then they have to realise this is just the first step in addressing funding disparities”“ says Mr Naylor.

“Last year, it cost over $186 million to provide free hospice care across New Zealand. While the Government provided $92.1 million, Hospices had to raise over $94 million from their communities to bridge the gap.

“ We are calling on the government to do more to support a sustainable future for hospices so they can continue to provide free of charge care for the most vulnerable in our community; dying well is a human right. ” says Mr Naylor.


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