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Auto-residency: Not a silver bullet

Automatic residency for health workers will help relieve shortages, but union members say there is more to do.

The Government added nurses, midwives and all medical specialists to the Straight-to-Residency, which was effected on Thursday [December 15].

New Zealand Nurses Organisation Wairarapa delegate Stephen Downie-Fribbens said the residency announcement had been a long time coming.

“NZNO welcomes the immediate residency pathway for overseas nurses as a step forward. Given the crisis of nursing workforce shortages and vacancies in Wairarapa itself, it should have been done much sooner.”

He said it would make a difference to the current shortage of Wairarapa nurses.

“We are a small, local community which is rural, and we have a small pool of professionals to draw from.

“Currently, we’re concerned about having enough nurses to adequately care for our patient load.”

However, he said further work was needed to improve pay and working conditions.

“There needs to be better working conditions and better pay, particularly towards health and safety. Until we address those issues, only then can we start to attract the highly qualified skills that we need. “

Association of Salaried Medical Specialists [ASMS] said in a statement that adding the medical professions to the green list would make New Zealand an attractive place for specialists to live and work.

“ASMS fully supports any improvement. We desperately need more nurses and anything sending a signal that we valued nurses less was a problem.”

Executive director Sarah Dalton said the time to process visa applications should be a priority.

“That slow process is a barrier for some people who want to emigrate to New Zealand. But it also gives people who are already here, without the certainty of residency, an unwanted incentive to keep looking elsewhere worldwide for work.

“We have already seen cases in the media of overseas trained medical specialists here now who have been questioning whether to wait in the lengthening queue for residence or to leave. Having already got good people here, that is a terrible outcome.”

Helen Holt
Helen Holt
Helen Holt is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age and enjoys reporting on a variety of topics, regularly covering Wairarapa events, tourism, local businesses, and the occasional health story.

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