New Zealand’s health system is in crisis, with a severe shortage of nurses and midwives contributing to ballooning waitlists, delays accessing treatment, and dangerously overcrowded emergency departments. Nurses on the frontline are bearing the brunt, and working long shifts is causing stress, anxiety, and burnout.
Instead of urgently addressing the workforce crisis, the health system has been restructured, increasing the bureaucracy, while hard-working and dedicated health professionals struggle with the weight of a faltering system. The result has been a significant increase in the number of Wellington-based health bureaucrats and a dangerous shortage of at least 4,000 nurses and hundreds of midwives throughout the country.
We can’t stand by and allow our hard-working frontline health professionals to burn out and for sick and injured New Zealanders to languish on wait lists.
Chris Luxon and National’s health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti have announced National’s plan to deliver more nurses and midwives. This policy will encourage more Kiwi’s to study nursing or midwifery and stay in the country.
The policy will pay nurses’ and midwives’ student loan repayments up to a total of $4,500 a year for the first five years after graduating, provided they remain working in their profession in New Zealand.
Covering student loan repayments for five years means a typical registered nurse or midwife would see an increase in their after-tax take-home pay of $87 a week. Over a five-year period, they would be up to $22,500 better off.
To access the student loan repayment scheme, nurses and midwives will need to enter into a bonding agreement with the Government where they commit to working in New Zealand in their profession for at least five years in continuity after they graduate. There will be exceptions for illness and family planning.
We must make New Zealand more attractive in the global competition for skilled workers by allowing qualified overseas nurses and midwives to come here on a six-month temporary visa, without a job offer, to look for work and to bring their immediate family members with them.
We will also establish a relocation support scheme, offering up to 1,000 qualified overseas nurses and midwives relocation grants worth up to $10,000 each to support their move to New Zealand.
We have a growing crisis in the health workforce. National will deliver more nurses and midwives so our hardworking frontline feel supported, and Kiwis can access the healthcare they deserve.
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