Mark Richardson furious at unvaccinated nurses who want to return to work amid health care crisis

  • 13/07/2022

With the health system near breaking point, made worse by a "chronic" staffing shortage, Mark Richardson has a blunt message to the hundreds of unvaccinated nurses wanting to return to the workforce - "take one for the team".

Appearing as a guest host on The Project on Wednesday, Richardson told unvaccinated nurses sitting on the sidelines to get the COVID-19 vaccine for the sake of the country.

"Just for God's sake, get the jab, go back to work," Richardson said. "Take one for the team.

"Every now and then we have to do something we don't want to do, but your country's calling.

"I don't care what your rationale is behind it, your country is saying, 'We need you', so go and do something."

The outburst comes after Nurses for Freedom New Zealand - a group of healthcare workers who at some point have said no to the jab - said they have hundreds of nurses willing to return to work if the Government drops its vaccine mandate.

Nurses for Freedom NZ founder Deborah Cunliffe said they want to help the healthcare system that is "clearly in crisis".

"Healthcare clearly matters to the people in New Zealand and our nurses want to help." 

Cunliffe said while she is a coordinator for the controversial Voices for Freedom group, it is a completely separate entity from Nurses for Freedom.

"They are not in any way connected," Cunliffe said.

She then goes on to say "there is a connection between the two groups" because "Voices for Freedom clearly supports our cause". 

Voices for Freedom is an anti-vaccination group that has previously been reprimanded and booted off social media for spreading COVID-19 misinformation.

Cunliffe said nurses would be happy for patients to choose if they want to be treated by only vaccinated nurses, as well as employing risk mitigation strategies such as PPE and RAT testing.  

"Personal choice is the key here and it has been all along."

The Project commissioned survey company Yabble to poll Kiwis around the country, asking: "Should unvaccinated nurses be allowed back to work?"

The majority of Kiwis said yes (57 percent), while 43 percent said no.

But the Nurses Society of New Zealand said unvaccinated nurses are not wanted back.

"Our positions pretty clear, they are a small minority, minuscule minority, they have displayed poor judgement, they have not met their professional obligations and the health service doesn't want them back," Nurses Society NZ director David Wills said.