Nurses and midwives need fast track residency

The government has the wrong priorities for immigration:

As New Zealand’s health system crumbles due to critical staffing shortages, National has launched a campaign to ensure that migrant nurses and midwives are offered a fast-tracked pathway to residency, National’s Immigration spokesperson Erica Stanford says.

“Labour has offered immediate residency to food technologists and ‘multimedia specialists’, yet not to these critical health workers.

Does the country have a dire need for food technologists and ‘mulitmedia specialists’ ?

It might, but the need for those people can’t be any higher than the need for nurses and midwives.

“Every day brings new headlines about our health system’s abysmal staffing shortcomings. Yet, the Government still hasn’t fixed its two-tiered immigration system that does nothing to attract nurses and midwives to New Zealand.

“Nurses and midwives are both on Australia’s priority skills list. If Australia offers the certainty of immediate residency, why would they choose New Zealand if they need to wait two years before they are even eligible to apply?

“We are short of around 4,000 nurses in this country. Continued unaddressed, we will surely hear worsening stories of 24-hour waits at Emergency Departments and patients even forgoing critically important treatment altogether.

“National has been calling on the Government to offer an immediate pathway to residency for nurses and midwives for months.

“However, the Immigration Minister can only provide an unfounded response that they shouldn’t be offered immediate residency because they might choose to leave their profession.

“That’s simply not good enough because we need these workers and the skills they would bring right now.

“National has launched a petition imploring the Government to immediately add nurses and midwives to the fast-track, start the fast-track process immediately and ensure the process of gaining residence is complete within three months of application.

“Until the Government takes action, it is Kiwis who will continue to pay the price.” 

The health system is sick and the prescription for treating it should have been given to frontline services and the people who provide them, not to restructuring the system.

Doctors and vets are on the green track for residency, as they should be, but so too should nurses and midwives. And the fast track should start immediately, not in September when the worst of winter illnesses will be over.

Hospitals are in crisis.

Staff are overworked, patients are facing long waits in emergency departments, surgery is being postponed, pregnant women are struggling to find a midwife, and resthomes have empty beds because they can’t find enough nurses :

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa (NZNO) says the Aged Care sector is in dire straits without mandated minimum safe staffing levels.

In 2020, between 200 and 300 Section 31 notices were submitted to the Ministry of Health notifying of the health and safety risks to patients caused by understaffing.

841 were submitted in 2021. Now 841 have been submitted between January and April of 2022 alone.

Chair of the NZNO College of Gerontology Natalie Seymour says the Aged Care sector is in crisis.

“Nurses are doing 12-16 hour shifts without a proper stand down period. I recently worked a 93 ½ hour week and this is getting more and more common.

“We have a huge shortfall of qualified registered and enrolled nurses, which is having a massively negative impact. I manage a facility with four nurses on the floor for 75 patients who require specialist care.

“The voluntary standards for our aged care facilities say each patient needs only need half an hour of one nurse’s care. But our ageing population are sicker, older, and more acute. The patients we have need much more care than half an hour a day.”

Ms Seymour says Aged Care facilities are responding to understaffing by refusing to fill beds.

“790 beds were closed this past year. When this happens it backs up hospitals, which are already over capacity, or leads to people being discharged when they shouldn’t be, burdening their whānau and communities.

“In order to make up the wages we have to increase room charges, and these are already $1500-2500 per week. We have people selling the family home to pay for care.”

Ms Seymour told the Health Select Committee this morning that a standardised acuity tool is needed that would help set staff/patient ratios that ensure clinically and culturally safe care for our patients.

“But we must also address the disparity between DHB and Aged Care worker pay, which can be up to $20,000, and this makes it incredibly difficult to recruit and retain staff.

“We do our best to pick up the pieces and support families through their grieving, to give them the care, support, and touch they deserve in their dying days. But the reality is no longer possible for our burned out Aged Care nurses and health workers.” 

Making employment in New Zealand for nurses and midwives by putting them on the fast-track, doing it immediately and ensuring their residency process is completed within three months would help to solve those problems.

You can sign the petition here.

One Response to Nurses and midwives need fast track residency

  1. Tim Sheppard says:

    Yes! And Erica Stanford was on fire in the House on this: https://www.facebook.com/100058259190932/posts/446371743981462/?app=fbl

    Like

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