“We need to be doing everything possible to get nurses into the country, but successive Immigration Ministers have failed to accept the problem or provide a solution,” says ACT’s Immigration spokesperson Dr James McDowall.

“Severe workforce shortages, a worse-than-normal influenza season, and the COVID-19 pandemic are creating a perfect storm that is crippling our health system. It is at crisis point and it is unsafe for the health workers working ridiculous hours to keep things afloat, and the New Zealanders desperately needing timely healthcare.

“One of the obvious solutions to this crisis is to make it easier for qualified nurses from overseas to come to New Zealand, but the Minister is seemingly determined to pretend the problem doesn’t exist as it doesn’t fit his Government’s anti-immigration agenda.

“When I questioned him in Parliament today, Minister Michael Wood claimed that nurses already have a fast-track to residency, but the reality is that it’s easier to get in if you’re a ‘multimedia specialist’.

“The Government turned off the immigration tap during COVID, having a devastating impact on many industries and our productivity as a nation. Now we should be opening our borders and welcoming the world back, but they’re only allowing a trickle of immigration.

“Immigration policy should be simple to navigate and welcoming so that the New Zealand economy can grow and more locals can be employed through job creation and investment. The Government has had more than two years of effectively zero immigration, yet the problems and backlogs persist.

“The Minister needs to urgently change the settings and allow us to start welcoming in skilled migrants who will have a positive impact on New Zealanders’ lives.”

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