New Zealanders deserve a health system that works for everyone, no matter who you are or where you live. Our Government has a plan to make this a reality, and we’re taking the next steps.
We now have thousands more health professionals, such as doctors and nurses, working in New Zealand than when we took office in 2017. 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.
But as we face the worst flu season in living memory and with the COVID-19 pandemic putting pressure on health services right across the world, we need to do more.
Here’s the next steps in our plan to continue growing the health workforce:
Bringing in more doctors and nurses from overseas
To make it easier for overseas health workers to move to New Zealand and find jobs, we’re establishing a new one-stop recruitment service within Health New Zealand. This will help with both immigration and registration for nurses, doctors, midwives and other health workers like physiotherapists.
We’re making it easier and cheaper for international health workers to get their professional qualifications recognised in New Zealand, so they can get to work sooner. And 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.
These practical initiatives will help to fill jobs as quickly as possible – making sure there’s more health workers in place to take care of Kiwis.
Training more health workers in New Zealand
As part of work to boost the health workforce, we’re training more doctors, nurses and radiographers here in Aotearoa. We’re also encouraging COVID-19 workers, such as vaccination support workers and contact tracers, to consider moving into a health career.
To attract more skilled workers back to health, New Zealand nurses who are no longer practising but want to return to the profession can now get financial support to reregister. We’re providing up to $5,000 through the Return to Nursing Support Fund to help them through the process and back to work.
We’ve also been working to make long-term plans to strengthen our health workforce. This includes recruitment campaigns – such as ‘Real Nurses’ which launched this week, retention strategies, and fair pay for our health professions.
A health system that works for all
Our recent changes to the health system mean we’re able to supercharge and streamline recruitment of doctors, nurses and other health workers. These next steps to grow our health workforce just wouldn’t be possible under the old bureaucratic structure which had 20 different district health boards all doing their own thing.
The changes we’ve made through our health reforms will also make it easier for people to get care early so small issues don’t become big problems requiring hospitalisation, helping to ease the pressure on our system. And, for doctors and nurses, a more streamlined, unified system will allow them to concentrate on patient care instead of battling bureaucracy.
Healthy communities depend on good health services - and good health services need a workforce with the right skills, the right support and the right environment in which people can work and thrive. The steps we’ve announced this week are one way we’re making this happen, as we build a health system that supports all New Zealanders, now and into the future.
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