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More health workers for Whangārei

By Dr Emily Henderson

This winter has been a shocker. With the worst flu season in living memory, and with the COVID pandemic putting pressure on health systems right across the world, Whangārei nurses, doctors, and health workers are not alone in feeling the pressure.

Since taking office in 2017, we’ve made building our health workforce a priority. There are now thousands more doctors and nurses working for Health New Zealand than when we came into Government. We’re training more nurses than ever, and we’ve changed immigration rules to make New Zealand one of the easiest places in the world for health workers to come to.

To grow New Zealand’s workforce, we’re providing financial support to help New Zealand nurses who are no longer practising get re-registered and return to the profession. We’re training more doctors, nurses and radiologists, and encouraging COVID workers like vaccination support workers to consider moving into a health career.

The Government is also investing in significant infrastructure at Whangārei Hospital with Tenders for the Construction of radiation oncology and new Child Health Centre now closed. Construction for the radiology unit is expected to be completed by 2025. This means a large amount of Northland patients who now receive radiotherapy / chemotherapy treatment at Auckland Hospital will be able to receive this treatment in Whangārei in a few years.

Artists impression of Whangārei hospital upgrades. Image: Te Whatu Ora Te Tai Tokerau
Artists impression of Whangārei hospital upgrades. Image: Te Whatu Ora Te Tai Tokerau

Images: Te Whatu Ora Te Tai Tokerau

Remaining hospital design work is underway and could utilise a large amount of development area available between Hospital Road and West End Ave. This would potentially allow the main hospital to be developed as a series of connected buildings, while still providing the opportunity to connect back to the current main campus via a link bridge across Hospital Road.

Whangārei Hospital building work is expected to start in 2025, employing up to 500 people, and will be great for our local economy as one of Whangārei’s largest infrastructure projects in a generation.

 

We’re making it easier and cheaper for international health workers to get professional qualifications recognised in New Zealand, so they can get to work sooner. We’re providing up to $10,000 to support overseas nurses with registration costs, and covering international doctors’ salaries during induction courses and training internships.

We’re also establishing a new one-stop recruitment service within Health New Zealand, to make it easier for overseas health workers to move here and find jobs.

Initiatives like these weren’t possible under the old bureaucratic structure which had 20 different district health boards all doing their own thing. There isn’t a quick fix, but together, these measures will ensure we have more health workers here in Whangārei to look after us and our families when we need it the most.


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