It is now over a decade since Primary Health Organisations were established in response to the recommendations made in the Primary Health Care Strategy (2001). It was well recognised then, and is confirmed now, that primary health care nurses have an extensive contribution to make to achieve both personal and population health gains. As the largest regulated workforce supervising the largest unregulated workforce in New Zealand, nursing is well placed to meet the significant challenges the health system faces over the next decade. And what a time the last decade has been for nursing in Northland, with new models emerging, education opportunities arising, and nurses extending and expanding their level of professional practice.
Manaia Health nurses’ have led the way in achieving many population health gains for Northland’s population, especially in the area of children’s health. Achieving and maintaining the MOH targets for immunization and providing free Before School Checks to over 90% of our population are two tremendous population health initiatives that reflect the day-to-day hard work of the tamariki ora and practice nurse teams. Most significantly both these achievements have narrowed the equity gap for Maori. Similarly it is team work that has made a difference to the cardiac health of our population with nurses providing cardiac risk assessments and brief advice and smoking interventions to the population. Over the two years since its inception twenty-four primary health care nurses have under-taken the mental health and addictions credentialing which strengthens the practice teams ability to offer early front-line help to people when they access health services. Similarly the commencement of a new respiratory support service, led by two nurses, is providing training for nurses to prevent illness and hospital admissions for some of our most vulnerable people.
Reflecting back on the past ten years there are many personal and collective achievements by Northland nurses. Nurses by nature are quiet achievers who more often than not deflect individual praise, giving credit to the teams they work in. Often nursing work is hidden in the overall outcome of a person’s experience within the health system, a system facing significant challenges with increasing need and limited resource. Now more than ever it is important to clearly articulate the work nurses do and the difference they make. The annual nursing and midwifery awards ceremony is one way to ensure nurse’s work is recognised. This event celebrates International Nurses’ and Midwives’ Days and acknowledges, celebrates and encourages excellence (ACE) in nursing and midwifery work, giving an opportunity for whanau and communities to learn about and celebrate the work that is done. Since the ACE awards commenced in 2013 over fifty Northland nurses and midwives have been acknowledged, by profiling the work they do and the commitment they make to the communities they serve.
Rachael Hetaraka (2nd from right) receives an ACE award for her services to nursing / child health presented by the Chief Nurse, Dr Jane O’Malley (left), Margareth Broodkoorn, Director of Nursing & Midwifery Northland DHB and Mary Carthew, Associate Director of Nursing, primary health nursing.
In the words of the Chief Nurse, Dr Jane O’Malley, guest of honour at the 2014 ACE awards evening:
“It was a great privilege and lots of fun to participate in the International Nurses Day nursing awards celebrations in Northland. I heard countless stories of primary health care nurses working in effective ways to improve health outcomes for Northland people. Thirty-four nurses and four midwives were honoured for excelling in service work across the spectrum of services and across the lifespan. It warmed my heart to hear of the expertise, enthusiasm, innovation and sheer hard work that nurses put into their work; good people doing great things to improve health outcomes for and with people.”
For a photo collage of the 2014 Ace Awards celebrating International Nurses Day, May 2014 click on the link: