Government rolls out measures to train more health workers
The government is rolling out a series of targeted measures to train more healthcare workers nationwide and bring more doctors and nurses into the country to help tackle the immediate pressures on the workforce.
Program to boost healthcare workforce includes creating a one-stop shop for international recruitment within Health New Zealand, training more GPs and removing significant financial barriers to registration professional.
“Current health workforce shortages have been brewing for decades, but have been exacerbated by COVID-19. Today’s package removes the real cost barrier for migrants entering healthcare staff. health while ensuring that we train enough people locally for the long term,” said Minister of Health Andrew Little.
“Our changes to the health system came into effect only a month ago, creating a single national health service. This means we can now have a single point of coordination and give real weight to a national campaign to address this. the decades-old labor shortage and ease the strain on the healthcare system
“These changes were simply not possible under the old disjointed and bureaucratic structure.
“The pressures on healthcare workers due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the worst flu season in living memory and historic under-evaluation and under-resourcing have been extreme over the past few weeks, but in fact, the problems go back further than that.
“The government has already made great strides in reviving the health system by increasing health funding by 44% over the past five years to a record $24 billion a year and committing to spend $7 billion for infrastructure to modernize hospitals.
“We have increased the pay of health care workers, in some cases significantly, and we are continuing our pay equity bargaining agenda for many health care workers.
“On March 31 this year, 1,765 more doctors and 4,277 nurses worked for Health New Zealand than there were when we entered government in 2017.
“We are training more nurses than ever before – 8,190 in 2021 compared to 7,340 in 2017. We have changed immigration rules to make New Zealand one of the easiest places in the world for nurses. healthcare, and during the COVID-19 pandemic, we brought in 5,700 critical healthcare workers despite global border closures.
“But we need to do more, and now we can. In my first speech when they came into existence on July 1, I told Te Whatu Ora – Health New Zealand, and Te Aka Whai Ora – the Maori Health Authority, that urgently filling vacancies is the top priority.
“A month later, I am pleased to present the immediate steps being taken, including practical initiatives to fill vacancies and ease pressure as quickly as possible, as well as proposals for a longer-term solution,” said Andrew Little.
Initiatives confirmed today include:
Streamlining and funding the system for international health workers, including doctors, to have their professional qualifications recognized in New Zealand.
For nurses, this includes funding of up to $10,000 each to attend and complete competency assessment programs that may be required to gain registration in New Zealand.
For doctors, there will be a six-month bridging program to prepare them to work in New Zealand, including payment of salaries during their six-week clinical induction courses and three-month training placements.
Expanding a successful pilot program this year that provides $5,000 funding to every non-practising nurse in New Zealand who wants to return to nursing to help them re-register. By the end of this year, the Return to Nursing Support program will have helped 200 New Zealand nurses reintegrate into healthcare staff, many of them in nursing homes. The scheme is also being relaxed to make it attractive to nurses who want to work part-time.
Develop a successful system to increase the number of internationally trained doctors able to work in New Zealand by having them do the internships they need to enroll in GP clinics rather than hospitals. The program will begin with a pilot project in Waikato and build on work already done in the northern region.
A joint project with the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners to increase the number of GPs trained each year to 300 and to obtain more Maori and Pacific GPs.
Double the number of nurse practitioners trained each year, from 50 to 100.
Funding to increase the number of training slots for radiology registrars so that there are 15 more training slots in three years. Increasing the number of radiology registrars will reduce the time needed to diagnose cancers.
Establishment of a one-stop international recruitment service within Te Whatu Ora – Health New Zealand to enable health workers from other countries to settle here and find employment as easily as possible. The service will offer both immigration and registration assistance for all kinds of healthcare workers, including doctors, nurses, midwives and paramedical workers such as physiotherapists.
Support people who have agreed to work under the COVID-19 vaccination program to enter the health workforce. Twenty-five first are now working in hospital support roles at Auckland Hospital, and Te Aka Whai Ora – the Maori Health Authority will support many more to do the same.
The development of the national health workforce plan is being led by former Auckland District Health Board Chief Executive Ailsa Clare.
“The initiatives announced today are just the start of the workforce plan,” said Andrew Little.
“The workforce task force will work with healthcare professionals and training organizations and consider issues such as the nature of healthcare jobs in the future.
“Another area we are looking at is the duplication of processes and the time it takes internationally trained nurses when seeking to register to work in New Zealand. I write to the Nursing Council, Te Whatu Ora – Health New Zealand, Te Aka Whai Ora – Maori Health Authority and Minister for Immigration to ask for it to be streamlined.”
The health workforce plan will place a strong emphasis on hiring more Maori and Pacific health workers.
“New Zealand’s response to the pandemic has shown how important it is to have a wide range of people and roles in the health and disability sector, such as whānau ora workers, kaimahi and support workers,” said Andrew Little.
“They have made a huge contribution and we are committed to supporting the development of this workforce to help ease the pressure on health professionals and build the capacity and capacity of Maori and Pacific health workers. .
“Te Aka Whai Ora – the Maori Health Authority has a specific role in developing and supporting the Maori health workforce and in ensuring that Maori providers and the communities they serve are supported during these difficult winter months. “
(With contributions from the New Zealand government press release)