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Physio 75% shortage won’t be relieved

A Greytown clinic owner says the region will bear the brunt of the Government’s decision to leave physiotherapists off the Green List.

The Work-to-Residency Green List was expanded on Monday to include nurses, midwives, and all specialist doctors who were not already on the residency fast-track.

 However, allied health workers, including physiotherapists, were left out in the cold. 

Willis St Physiotherapy, who runs a clinic at Greytown’s Five Rivers Medical, managing director Amy Black, said the shortage was a massive problem for South Wairarapa.

“We’ve been struggling to recruit in Greytown. We’ve been actively recruiting for a year without securing a candidate.”

She said the clinic was currently operating with a quarter of the physiotherapists it needed, with four part-time physios – equalling one fulltime clinician. 

Black said most patients were able to secure an appointment within 48 hours, but said slots were limited to those already registered with the clinic. 

“We haven’t opened the services to the whole South Wairarapa community because we don’t have the capacity. 

“The purpose of Five Rivers was to work as an integrated health facility. We could help with any injuries and take the load off nurse practitioners and general practitioners which are both under-resourced.”

Black said the current Greytown clinic dealt with various conditions, including workplace and sports injuries, concussions and post-stroke rehabilitation. 

She said leaving physios off the Green List made New Zealand an unattractive place for professionals with families to move to. 

“It’s a real oversight from the Government not to prioritise where workers are needed. 

“More established experienced physios with families would find Wairarapa an attractive place to live, but they want security, a permanent place to call home.”

She said 40 per cent of physiotherapists in the Wellington region were from overseas. 

“Wellington is easier to recruit young people from overseas. They come here on a working holiday visa for a year and travel.”

“Pre-covid, people were looser. They were prepared to move for a year at a time, but now they’re more risk-averse.”

Physiotherapy New Zealand president Mark Quinn said there was a nationwide shortage of physiotherapists.

“Physio’s workloads have been increasing as we see more and more patients as a result of injuries, treatment to prevent falls, children with disabilities, and managing long-covid.

“We know that physiotherapy can keep New Zealanders healthier and more active, which helps reduce the need for more acute care and hospital admissions. It makes no sense to us that the government doesn’t recognise these benefits and open the way for overseas professionals to work here.”




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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