The campaign sells the West Coast as a natural choice for health workers

Development West Coast chief executive Heath Milne said the campaign has taken a different approach to attracting much-needed health workers.

The West Coast is trying to entice healthcare workers who want a little more adventure in their lives to become Coasters.

The recruitment campaign is a collaboration between Te Whatu Ora and Development West Coast.

When registered social worker Bessy Anish moved to Greymouth in 2018, she knew next to nothing about the West Coast, just that it rained heavily.

“It’s very calm and quiet and very peaceful here, and very good people.”

Although she’s been out of town and off the beaten path for years, she said there are plenty of opportunities to advance her career, including moving to different neighborhoods.

“You can get skills in every area so you can be an all-rounder. You can get experience in every area and wherever it’s needed they can call you. I find it really good for my professional development.”

The campaign aims to entice more medical professionals like Bessy to ditch the traffic and crowds and move to the coast.

Development West Coast chief executive Heath Milne said he wanted to come up with something a little different.

The campaign video encouraged anyone who wants to become a “warrior of the week” exploring the slopes, rivers, beaches and mountains, and not just a “weekend warrior”, to consider the move.

“The whole world is after health care workers and other workers, so it’s kind of weird and it’s focusing on people who might fit in on the west coast instead of focusing on what they going to do when they get here.”

They needed yesterday’s workers.

“The need is now. We know that when we started there were 50 vacancies for nurses alone on the coast. There are other healthcare workers who are also needed, so okay, the goal is to get as many as possible.”

Development West Coast wants to expand the campaign to other areas in the coming months.

“The total population of the Coast is 32,000. If I had to put a number on that, I’d say there are between 500 and 1,000 jobs available here on the Coast.”

This included seasonal roles.

Te Whatu Ora Te Tai o Poutini has over 60 vacancies for full-time equivalent staff in nursing and paramedical care, as well as general practitioners, psychiatrists and midwives.

Generic photo of the southern alps from near fairlie

The West Coast landscape is a calling card for workers in the region.
Photo: RNZ / Tess Brunton

Chief Executive Philip Wheble said he was trying to reduce the impact on patients as much as possible.

“The commitments of our staff, they really want to make sure that the services are the best that we can offer to the community.

“There is more impact in some areas than others and the staff are working hard to ensure that we can still deliver the services, perhaps in a slightly different way.”

This could involve moving patients around the area.

The campaign aimed to provide opportunities not just for workers, but also for their whanau, he said.

“If you like the outdoors, if you like not spending a lot of time in traffic, if you like really innovative small teams, then the Coast is the place for them.”

More than 20 health professionals have already expressed their interest a few weeks before the launch of the campaign.

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